ALEXANDRIA, VA -- December 21, 2005 - BREAKING THE SILENCE: CHILDREN'S STORIES chronicles the impact of domestic violence on children and the recurring failings of family courts across the country to protect them from their abusers. In stark and often poignant interviews, children and battered mothers tell their stories of abuse at home and continued trauma within the courts. The producers approached the topic with the open mindedness and commitment to fairness that we require of our journalists. Their research was extensive and supports the conclusions drawn in the program. Funding from the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation met PBS's underwriting guidelines; the Foundation had no editorial influence on program content.
However, the program would have benefited from more in-depth treatment of the complex issues surrounding child custody and the role of family courts and most specifically the provocative topic of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). Additionally, the documentary's "first-person story telling approach" did not allow the depth of the producers' research to be as evident to the viewer as it could have been.
PBS has received a substantial body of analysis and documentation from both supporters of the documentary and its critics.
It is clear to us that this complex and important issue would benefit from further examination. To that end, PBS will commission an hour-long documentary for that purpose. Plans call for the documentary to be produced and broadcast in Spring 2006. We expect that the hour-long treatment of the subject will allow ample opportunity for doctors, psychologists, judges, parent advocates and victims of abuse to have their perspectives shared, challenged and debated.
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