Protect Our Children: Unlocking the Mind

May 21, 2012 8:42:14 AM PDT
We know how to keep our children safe in a physical sense, but what about in the realm of mental health? On Saturday, May 19th at 7 p.m., WABC-TV will air "Protect Our Children: Unlocking the Mind," a half-hour special that will delve into the fragile intricacies of a child's mind -- and explore how to maintain mental health at a young age. If you can't catch the show on Saturday, you can watch the entire special right here on 7online on this page after the program airs!

Eyewitness News anchor Diana Williams will host the show that will report on the mental health issues and behavioral disorders that plague the children in our society. Where can parents go to get help? What are the signs of child sexual abuse? What should we teach our children about reporting inappropriate behavior? How important is it for parents to just listen? What should we as a society do about laws, like the Statute of Limitations on Child Sexual Abuse, that protect sex offenders at the expense of kids? These are just some of the questions the program tries to answer.

The program features a profile on Andrew Parker, a 16-year-old runaway who left home in November 2011 and is diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). His mother, Suzanne Parker, speaks to issues she had managing this teen while coping with his diagnosis. You'll how she has her hands full as both her adopted children have issues: the younger brother, James, is diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. James is now being treated in the residential program at Green Chimneys, a program known for animal assisted therapy.

The program also addresses the cuts in school budgets and how it is affecting the care of these children. Dr. Charles Soule, co-chair of the NYC School Based Mental Health Committee speaks to the fact that many schools with limited resources are having to call in the police and EMS when they can't handle the risk that these children might pose to themselves and to others.

The program addresses the issue of changing the Statute of Limitations in New York State when it comes to child sexual abuse. Profiled are two sisters who say they were abused by their oldest brother for many years and a 26-year-old man from the Hasidic community who says he was abused at the age of 8 by the principal at his Yeshiva.

The experts who speak this issue include Marci Hamilton, professor at Benjamin Cardozo Law School and author of the book Justice Denied; Dr. Richard Gartner, psychologist and author of the book, Beyond Betrayal; and Assemblywoman Marge Markey who has been trying for seven years to get the Child Victims Act, also known as the "Markey Bill," passed in New York State. You'll also find out about the difficulty these children have in speaking up and the mental torment they endure -- and how a new treatment at Safe Horizon is having success in overcoming these difficulties.

This special is the fifteenth in a series from WABC-TV's "Protect Our Children" campaign that originated in 1998 and has been developed with the collaboration of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, (NCMEC). The campaign includes informational safety messages, a website and campaign that continues to broadcast the pictures of missing children in every Eyewitness News program. The previous specials have received four Emmy Awards, six "Gracie" Awards from the American Women in Radio-TV-Film (AWRT) and awards from the NCMEC. All of the segments along with additional material, web chats and links to resources and agencies that can be of help will be posted on after the airing of the program.