JACKSONVILLE, Alabama – Nearly two decades following its 1997 release, the highly controversial docu-drama “No Child of Mine,” still attracts the uninformed with its extreme storyline of abuse and child prostitution, two factors that are known too well where minor trafficking is a profitable gain around the world.
The Peter Kosminsky-directed cut narrates the true story of a 10-year-old British girl nicknamed “Kerry,” who endures severe sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of her guardians, among the likes of her birth mother, birth father, stepfather, schoolteacher and counselor. Traumatized, Kerry is then mislead to enter child prostitution as working means to support herself and flee to a “safe haven” where no one can hurt her.
Raw and uncensored, the film would go on to gain notoriety among the “most disturbing films in history” for its subtle graphic nature of child abuse; going on to be granted a minimal release via public television networking.
Director Kosminsky elaborated to the press at the time of the film’s initial distribution that the work was produced to prevent abuse-sufferers from following the same path as Kerry. Furthermore, the envelope-pushing director was alarmed by the mass public’s ignorant view of child abuse, where such crimes as those outlined in the film tend to go unnoticed due to the disbelief of such horrors.
“No Child of Mine” more notably sought to expose the overlooked “conveyor belt grooming” technique in abuse cases, where victims are “passed around” for manipulative, deceitful gain.
Additionally, the work unearthed a discomforting look into how certain law systems within nations like Great Britain fail to protect and help children suffering from such abusive backgrounds. It would be highlighted that within Kerry’s nonfiction experience, her case was dismissed by Crown Prosecution Services for “lack of evidence” relating to abuse recollection.
The filming production would go on to receive accolades and backing support from anti-abuse agencies such as The Children’s Society, Childline and Kidscape.
However, upon the film’s release, heated criticism from news reporters who had not seen the film was met. European publications, such as The Independent, critiqued the film as “harrowing” rather than “graphic,” and added that underage actress Brooke Kinsella, who portrayed Kerry, was subjected to abuse herself due to her questionable willingness to enact on such an explicit role.
However, the criticism was immediately shot down by the passionate takes of Kosminsky, Kinsella and fellow supportive organizations. The supportive network accused the critics of playing the traditional role of abuse onlookers who “don’t want to believe” that such horrors like these exist in the everyday world.
Kosminsky and fellow organizations also eased the public’s concern, assuring that the work was in no way made for “entertainment,” but issued in the form of an awareness statement.
Following the television premiere, 46 hotlines equipped with safe, reliable counseling assistants and helpful information were recommended to potential abuse survivors and sufferers.
Still, despite Kosminsky’s and various organizations’ arguments and good-hearted tactics to rid away negative press, “No Child of Mine” suffered immense backlash; so extreme that some publications threatened to reveal the true identity of Kerry, despite the proposed action being illegal in the nation of Great Britain.
Years following the release and criticism of “No Child of Mine,” the international film found a connection with several international child abuse crimes that shared familiarity with Kerry’s story. One of which would echo so eerily.
In 2012, it was reported that a “conveyor belt grooming” case, Rochdale sex trafficking-ring, came under fire for its delay in legal action and scrutiny triggered by political correctness.
The global case came to attention when reports noted that authorities failed to look into a yearly child prostitution case, occurring from 2008 to 2010, due to fear of being accused of “institutional racism,” yielded by initial allegations of the perpetrators retaining Middle Eastern or Asian background.
Additional tension arose when the British jurisdiction system, Crown Prosecution Services, failed to review the case when it was first presented in 2008 by an underage victim. The proposal was not reviewed until a year later when another victim came forth.
Similarly, North America has had its fair share of problematic tactics when enforcing appropriate, timely action against underage sex-circuit crimes.
According to a 2010 excerpt published by Elsevier Ltd., North American services for human trafficking victims have seen steady action, yet the help tends to be directed towards more adults rather than children. The conflict stems from lack of pediatric information, such as risk factors or behavior problems, for healthcare providers to use when helping underage victims.
As noted in a 2014 National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) report, an estimate of nearly 27 million individuals across the globe are accounted as “modern-day slaves” trapped in captivity. Solutions to decrease the number and aid victimized children have included further implementation of educational interventions and increased awareness, both of which are urged to be carried out as a partnership between “medical and nonmedical colleagues.”
While researchers still try to find solutions in ending drastic underage sex crimes, awareness media such as “No Child of Mine” continues to educate and remind the public that such unimaginable horrors exist in our world and should not be ignored.
Since its controversial release, not only has the film provoked responses from critics and eerie connections with similar sex crimes, but the work presumably serves as a subtle influence for accompanying media such as BBC’s global documentary “Panorama: Suffer the Little Children” (2002) and the Canadian film, “Jet Boy” (2001); the latter exposing the disturbing background of underage male prostitution.
Within 18 years, “No Child of Mine” continues to flourish in a gateway of awareness as hopeful effort to speak up for those who lack a voice, and more importantly, continues to present an overlooked crisis that fails to meet an effective solution.
– Jefferson Varner
Sources: TES, The Independent, Samira Ahmed, DOCHOUSE, NCBI 1, NCBI 2, Daily Mail Online, BBC News, NCBI 3
Photo: The Arts Desk
Photo: Maggie Boyd