Kids on TV Shows: Kid Nation

What was Kid Nation? The sound of it is pretty provocative, right?

In 2007 CBS quietly shot a “reality TV” series in New Mexico, called, Kid Nation.  Sort of a “Lord of the Flies with Hunger Games and the teachers have left the building”  school/living/survival - exploitation – for television.  What, you say?  As an adult who cares for the well being of the youngest among us – I was surprised at the premise of this program; and surprised at CBS network for attempting to exploit the kids.  The kids were intentionally left alone to fend for themselves – at the expense of the other kids.  The production crew staff was present of course - but this is really a head-scratcher of a premise. 

Kid Nation – yikes!!  I am a practical theologian, not a scientific researcher and though I suspect I will strangle this sentence, scientific community please forgive me, I think I understand certain things don’t get researched that effect children and their well being:  You would have to have the potential to intentionally harm a group of children to test whether or not something is harmful.  Rather than research how the program’s premise would harm or help - CBS appear to have thrown it together.

So what is this idea of Kid Nation?  It is about a product for television that can be sold to make a profit.  This is not a terrible thing, but why must a com pay sell children to make a profit   Can anyone say crazy greedy ratings at the expense of the well being of the children involved on the program and those who might (if you allowed it) watch the program?  In the real world, (remembering that programs like this are entertainment and NOT real world) whoever the adults in charge are that left children this age to their own devices like played out in Kid Nation, would be subject to scrutiny by authorities for not caring for the children.  Or, these kids would be called, homeless children; this is not an entertaining subject but a heart breaking subject. 

What is uncomfortable about this picture? Exploitation of children and youth for the purposes of selling airtime by gaining an audience of young people.  Here is a link to the episodes: http://bit.ly/1kgTZMU

And here is a link for what one former participant, 14 years old at the time, was thinking: http://bit.ly/1rIhCA3

Do we as a culture and society need to preserve the idea that children are to be cared for and cherished by the adults who brought them into the world? If children are not regarded as precious*, how will they understand what precious is?

Here is another thought; when we intentionally damage children (the horrors of real world not withstanding), what harm ripples through the universe and how can we heal it?  How will the children of our souls and lives recover from the vicitmization of corporate greed, and , how are they shaped by it? 

As of this writing in late July 2014 there are bombs still dropping in Gaza and children are dying – there is starvation in Darfur and children are il, there are homeless children at our southern U.S> border without their parents; there is real harm in the world happening to children.  So, rather than exploit children for greed in TV shows, how about we teach them that we must have compassion for the suffering?
Scripture repeatedly tells us that children are precious:

Psalms: 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Proverbs: 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Gospel: Matt 18:1-3 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Media can support compassion and love, hope and making things better. Let’s go with that.  CBS – you can do better.

Blessings for the common good,
Pastor Robin

Posted at 1:02pm, on July 24th 2014 by Robin Blair