As we were doing some research on child welfare topics this week we came across two films we hand’t shared before and which we thought may be of interest.
In the Best Interest of the Child – 1990
This film was released in America and looks at child sexual abuse within a home setting. Many of the themes in this film are still relevant today and highlight established behaviours in the context of child sexual abuse by a family member.
The film also shows how innocent parents try to protect their children when the law lets them down by fleeing with their children. That action is defined in law as kidnapping in both the US and the UK, and so the film asks us to think about whether these legal definitions are always fit for purpose.
Wikipedia’s summary of the film is good, so we’re adding it here:
“Jennifer Colton is a divorced mother and architect who retains custody of her five-year-old daughter Mandy while her ex-husband Walt is granted regular access. However, Jennifer becomes concerned by her daughter’s restless sleeping and increasingly violent behaviours and is horrified to discover it might be related to sexual abuse by the child’s father.
With the help of her attorney-cousin Howard Feldon, next-door neighbour and best friend Nora, as well as various doctors and therapists, Jennifer seeks to protect her daughter from Walt by having his access suspended.
Jennifer soon discovers that the law is not on her side when the court, in the absence of incontrovertible evidence, refuses to restrict Walt’s unsupervised-visitation rights. When Jennifer refuses to let her ex-husband see the child, the judge finds her in contempt and places her in a county jail until she relents.
Ultimately, Jennifer decides the only way to save Mandy from abuse is to “kidnap” the child. She is willing to go to prison so that Mandy can live in hiding with her relatives and away from her abusive father.”
In the Best Interest of the Children- 1992
This film is based on a real life case in Iowa, America and tells the story of a mother who loses her children to the care system. The film attracted significant public attention which led Iowa to implement legislation creating rights for children in foster care.
The case itself stemmed around a mother who suffered with manic-depression while looking after her five children. Her children are eventually taken from her and placed in foster care.
After Iowa amended its legislation to protect the rights of foster children in the state, the children in the case were subsequently placed in the care of their aunt and uncle and were able to visit their mother often, even though she continued to struggle with her mental illness.