Nearly a million children are severely abused or neglected every year in America. The cost to society of this abuse is staggering – over $100 billion annually. Headlines on child abuse are usually about a wrenching fatality or the failure of the state social service system to protect the most vulnerable among us. Yet there are survivors.
In recognition of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Georgia Public Broadcasting will present a special evening of programming on Wednesday, April 15 beginning at 9 PM that depicts the poignant stories of child abuse survivors and examines what Georgia is doing to prevent child abuse and neglect.
The programming begins at 9 PM with the new GPB Original Production The Road Beyond Abuse. Narrated by Jane Fonda, and produced by GPB Executive Producer Pam Roberts, the documentary focuses on two adults now living in Georgia – Johnnetta McSwain and Michael McClain. Though both of them were physically and emotionally battered for years, they refused to give up and went on to achieve great things in their lives. The Road Beyond Abuse looks at how and why this was possible.
“As a producer I wondered how to approach such a huge and daunting subject,” says Roberts. “After much research, expert consultations and conversations with many people, I realized that child abuse impacts different people in different ways as they grow up. Some are devastated by it and never fully recover; while others mysteriously manage to go on with their lives and even thrive.
“So I began to question why some people are able to transcend the abuse they received as children, how they did it, and what can we learn from their experiences. I set out to find such people, and this is how Johnnetta McSwain and Michael McClain came to be the central figures in the documentary, The Road Beyond Abuse.”
Following the documentary, GPB will broadcast The Road Beyond Abuse: A Discussion. Hosted by GPB’s Susan Hoffman, the program examines what Georgia is doing to combat child neglect and abuse.
The Road Beyond Abuse: A Discussion also examines the personal characteristics of children who overcome great trauma, as well as the impact of outside forces such as mentors, education and community, which intervene in the lives of such children.
Also featured in this program is a video profile of Eric and Jonni Fichtner of Marietta, Georgia, who are waging their own private war against child abuse by adopting high-risk children and counseling young families. In addition, the program looks at the story of Rachel Forrest, a Jasper, Georgia resident who overcame drug abuse to regain custody of her twins through a strong mentor and an innovative drug court program.
During this entire evening of programming, from 9 - 11 PM on Wednesday, April 15, GPB will provide a live phone bank in its studio that will be staffed by experts from the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Family and Children Services, Prevent Child Abuse Georgia and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, among others. Viewers who call in to the GPB studio number, which will be displayed on screen throughout the programming, can receive advice on child abuse and neglect issues, as well as being directed to services and resources in their home area.
Georgia Public Broadcasting is Television, Radio and Education: your PBS station serving all of Georgia; your source for great music and NPR news; and Georgia's source for top-quality multiple media educational products and services.
Watch Georgia Public Broadcasting on these nine stations across Georgia: Atlanta – Channel 8.1; Albany - WABW/14.1, Augusta - WCES/20.1, Chatsworth - WCLP/18.1, Columbus - WJSP/28.1, Dawson - WACS/25.1, Macon - WMUM/29.1, Savannah - WVAN/9.1, Waycross - WXGA/8.1.