Poor Kids

Watch Poor Kids on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

I’m not trying to bring the mood down right before Thanksgiving, but Frontline has an excellent documentary we should all watch about poverty in America through the eyes of poor children living in cities like New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix and San Francisco. The children are aware of the circumstances they are in. Sera, an 11-year-old who lives with her sister and mother in San Francisco, has been in and out of shelters before securing subsidized housing in the Tenderloin district. “I think it’s kind of scary that we don’t have much of a choice if we lose this place,” she says. “This is not the Great American Dream.”

Filmmaker Jezza Neumann made the documentary after seeing the huge response he saw when he made a documentary about poor children living in the U.K. 12 years ago. In a Q+A, Neumann discusses how difficult it is to remain neutral while making the documentary:

During the filming you try to stay as distant as possible, while remaining connected. It’s really difficult because, of course, as a human being, you don’t want to witness what you’re witnessing. You’d love to change things for the kids, but you know in your heart of hearts you can’t. If I changed things for Kaylie and I bought her all the food, can I buy the food again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow? If I buy her a bunch of clothes, should I buy them for Tyler? And should I therefore go and buy them for the kid next door, who also doesn’t have any? Where does it stop?

So many questions we don’t yet have the answer for.

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2 Comments / Post A Comment

selenana (#673)

I don’t think you’re bringing the mood down. It’s good to remember in the season of excess.

WhyHelloThere (#1,398)

Frontline has an excellent documentary we should all watch about poverty in America through the eyes of poor children living in cities like New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix and San Francisco.

I think the kids in the documentary actually all live in the Quad Cities area of Western Illinois and Eastern Iowa. (Sera, from the web-only extra, lives in San Francisco.) I’m actually curious about what people think of the choice not to focus on kids in big cities.

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