Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

CBC doc puts poverty, programs in spotlight

  • Print

There's no denying the gang background -- drugs, crime, violence and jail time -- but for the purposes of this documentary about the challenges facing 21st-century parents and children, inner-city Winnipeg resident Kelson is just a dad who wants the best for his kids.

"I went to jail, did a lot of time in jail, had a lot of friends killed. I don't want that for my kids," says the young aboriginal father of six, one of several Manitobans featured in the CBC/Doc Zone feature Angry Kids & Stressed-Out Parents, which airs Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC.


Doc Zone: Angry Kids & Stressed-Out Parents

Written and directed by Maureen Palmer

Thursday at 9 p.m.


3-1/2 stars

So Kelson (no last name is used in the film), and spouse Jennifer have enrolled the youngest of their children in an innovative program focused on providing intense, one-on-one, language-focused training they hope will increase the chances of breaking the cycle of crime and poverty that has enveloped their families.

Angry Kids & Stressed-Out Parents, written and directed by Vancouver filmmaker Maureen Palmer and narrated by Ann-Marie MacDonald, is an hour-long documentary that builds upon a troubling statistic that speaks volumes about where we are as a society: for the first time in North American history, more children suffer from mental-health conditions than from physical ailments.

The causes are many and varied, and the long-term consequences are hard to quantify, but there's agreement among the experts in the film that it's crucial to start finding solutions immediately.

"If we don't start early in providing those (educational intervention) resources... we will not have a society in which any of us are happy, safe and productive," says Leanne Boyd of Healthy Child Manitoba.

The film examines three intervention-based programs aimed at giving extra help to children at risk; two of those segments were filmed in Winnipeg.

Kelson and Jennifer have three children enrolled in the Abecedarian Program, a local version of an initiative developed in the 1970s to assist impoverished African-American children in North Carolina. That program's intensive linguistic training produced impressive results: by age 30, members of the original Abecedarian class were four times more likely to have graduated college, 50 per cent more likely to have full-time employment and 84 per cent less likely to be on social assistance.

Kelson, the product of a family of residential school survivors, never received positive parenting and lacks the skills to provide it for his children, but he's wise enough to seek help.

"I don't want to be like those people," he says of his parents and grandparents, "like the way they raised me. I don't want to be raised like that and have my kids raised like that. I want to change myself."

Also in the spotlight in Angry Kids & Stressed-Out Parents is the PAX Good Behaviour Game, a deceptively simple tool available to all Manitoba elementary schools. Its focus is on using positive social reinforcement to turn learning self-control into an entertaining game, and research has shown that PAX has positive effects on rates of high school graduation, adult criminal behaviour and suicide.

When it comes to parental anguish, there's nothing in Angry Kids & Stressed-Out Parents that matches the comments offered by Monique Lépine, whose son, Marc, was the gunman responsible for the deaths of 14 young women at Montreal's âcole Polytechnique in 1989. It's almost too painful to watch as she shares the story of a son doomed by decades of abuse and neglect, and then ponders what might have been avoided if only she'd had the tools to be a better mother. If only.

Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2014 D3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Key of Bart - Four Little Games

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060711 Chris Pedersen breeds Monarch butterflies in his back yard in East Selkirk watching as it transforms from the Larva or caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage to an adult Monarch. Here an adult Monarch within an hour of it emerging from the Chrysalis which can be seen underneath it.
  • May 22, 2012 - 120522  - Westminster United Church photographed Tuesday May 22, 2012 .  John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google