SILVER SPRING, Md., April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the Children's Defense Fund, every 42 seconds a child is abused or neglected, and every three hours a child or teen is killed by gunfire in the United States. The stakes are incredibly high – without proper intervention, children of abuse or neglect become two and a half times more likely to commit a crime, or become the victim of a crime.
In Massachusetts, there's a non-profit organization that may prove to be a model for a national child welfare system in trouble. In the new world premiere of the documentary, CHILDREN OF PROMISE: THE LEGACY OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY, Investigation Discovery (ID) explores the work of the Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps in Massachusetts, founded in honor of the late senator, which has established a proven track record for successfully rehabilitating and mentoring children of crime, violence and neglect.
Narrated by Tony Award-winning actor Mandy Patinkin, CHILDREN OF PROMISE (World Premiere: Friday, May 20 at 8PM ET) features archival footage and new interviews with Kennedy family members, including RFK's daughters Kerry Kennedy and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. These rare interviews connect the life and work of RFK to the powerful stories of the young people whose lives have been turned around through the work of the Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps.
"As Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy chaired the President's Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime. He saw delinquency as a cover word for poverty and racial discrimination. He interrogated the experts, visited the projects, and talked with youth gangs in the streets of East Harlem. He believed that institutional change was necessary, and that the best hope for change lay in citizen participation and community empowerment. He saw his responsibility through the lens of the duty imposed on every member of an extended family, to care deeply for those who are troubled," said Kerry Kennedy, president of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. "Today, the RFK Children's Action Corps provides the love and support that so many of these young women and men have been denied by poverty, race and the failure to provide the community of care, which every person deserves by virtue of being born into the human family."
"It's been well said that 'vision is the art of seeing the invisible' and, in that regard, we are honored to give our network's audience this rare glimpse into Robert F. Kennedy's enduring vision for our nation's youth," said Henry Schleiff, president and general manager of Investigation Discovery. "This is an initiative which RFK first started to champion as Attorney General of the U.S. in the early 1960s and, today, this organization fuels the power of change and the strength of the human spirit, a legacy that indeed well reflects Robert F. Kennedy's original vision."
CHILDREN OF PROMISE explores three stories of tragedy turned triumph, including the story of Brian Hancock who, at the age of 14, was involved in a gang-related homicide. Brian was able to avoid serving time in an adult state prison, as his attorney fought to have him tried as a juvenile. A lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter provided Brian with the opportunity to be admitted to the RFK Children's Action Corps, where he turned his life around and is now Deputy Director of the New Jersey Division of Child Behavioral Health Services.
"We have a broken child welfare system, but organizations like ours do exist and work to help children and families live better lives," said Edward Kelley, president and CEO of the RFK Children's Action Corps. "It's really a milestone when you're able to help children see their full potential – that they can become the architect of their own success, which is the founding belief behind the RFK Children's Action Corps, a straight inspiration from the words of Robert F. Kennedy himself."
Also featured are the stories of two children of neglect, Bianca Fonseca and Ulises Robledo, both of whose successes in later life are clear illustrations of how this agency has become a leader in child welfare and a template for the juvenile justice system.
Only a fraction of at-risk children end up at a place like the RFK Children's Action Corps in Massachusetts, where the agency treats both children who have committed crimes, as well as kids who come from dangerous and unstable homes. The agency works to identify the basis of a child's problem, and tailors the program to help each child individually.
CHILDREN OF PROMISE: THE LEGACY OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY premieres on Friday, May 20 at 8PM ET/PT on Investigation Discovery.
CHILDREN OF PROMISE: THE LEGACY OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY is produced for Investigation Discovery by NBC's Peacock Productions with executive producer Elizabeth Fischer. For Investigation Discovery, Ed Hersh is executive producer and Henry Schleiff is president and general manager.
About Investigation Discovery
Investigation Discovery (ID), America's leading investigation network, is the source for fact-based investigative content about culture, history and the human condition. Providing the highest quality investigative programming focused on fascinating stories of human nature from the past to the present, Investigation Discovery's in-depth documentaries and series challenge viewers on important issues shaping our culture and defining our world. As the premier authority in real investigations, ID is expanding partnerships with established news organizations and production companies to bring the strongest analytic, factual investigative and current affairs programming to over 75 million U.S. households. For more information, please visit investigationdiscovery.com