the lost children of rockdale county
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Rachel Dretzin Goodman: We spent several months in Conyers getting to know kids before we figured out who the kids were who had been directly involved in the outbreak. And there were definitely times when we almost gave up.

Barak Goodman: We had been going the sort of slow route to finding the kids for a while-- talking to one kid who would tell us about another kid, going to that parent for permission. It was very frustrating, very slow. So, finally, one night we decided, Look, we just gotta go where the kids are. This is ridiculous. We just gotta go out into the night, so to speak. So we jumped in our van. It was late Friday night. And we sort of tooled around town until we found this car with this blue light coming out from underneath and two really sort of interesting-looking kids in the front. So we basically tailed them all over town trying to find out where they went, dashing in and out-- for some reason they were going behind buildings and through parking lots until they finally wound up in this big empty parking lot in front of the grocery store where all these great looking kids were. And to make a long story short it began the process of basically just coming up to kids and introducing ourselves. This was a bumpy kind of process.

RDG: We met with these kids several times before they ever went on camera. And often hung out with them, with their families, with their friends I mean. We spent a lot of time with them, and came to know some of them very well-- some more than others, but some of them I felt we came to know very well. We were trying to find a range not just demographically, but sort of conceptually. I mean we wanted kids who touched on all the different aspects of the story that we had come to feel were really central. You know, kids who had two working parents; kids who had single parents, of whom we met many; kids who had been sexually active really young; kids who had dropped out of school; kids who had stayed in school. I mean we really tried to get a range.

BG: Beyond that, it was who--who captured, what was really going on down there. Who was able to express both verbally, physically and in every way the really essential thing we were feeling, this anomie, this sort of wandering quality these kids had.

RDG: And they were wonderful, The kids who participated in this show and their parents were extremely courageous in doing so. And in putting themselves out there. It is not an easy thing to do. And I admire all of them for doing it.

BG: Because doing a program like this is a pain in the rear if you're on camera. I mean you, yes there is a certain glamour initially in it. You love it the first time the camera comes. But then the camera comes back and back again. and we call again, can you do this, can you do that, can you meet us here. And after a while it's just it's not that fun anymore. They're doing it for a different reason, they're doing it because they see some value in it. Because they want to talk about these things. They have an interest in seeing the show you know be sort of an accurate reflection of their lives and I think they all felt a stake in it after a while.

RDG: I think it was very clear to them who we were and that we were not their mother or their father or their cousin or their big sister, that we were adults who were coming to talk to them about their lives. However there were many instances in which I would talk to kids and they would tell me things that their parents didn't know and I knew their parents didn't know. And that was awkward particularly when I then interviewed their parents on camera because I did not want to betray the confidence of the children on the other hand sometimes the children would say things on television when the camera was running that I knew their parents didn't know.

BG: There is one other concern that I have and that is that the kids who were involved, I don't think they'll come under direct attack by people in the community, but I do think there will be people in the community who dismiss them as being kind of "bad" kids, what else can we expect from kids like that, That would be unfortunate and I think a huge mistake. We talked to hundreds of kids. WE heard these stories again and again and again. We happened to pick these kids. We could have picked any number of other kids from very good homes and so on. It would be unfair to these kids to have that happen. Inevitably there are going to be some people who say that, but we hope it doesn't come back to hurt them in any way.
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