Narratives, Film and Television Glamorize Orphans

Were you to only use film, books and television as a gauge, the lives of orphans might seem mildly harrowing, yes, but also mostly filled with adventure, redemption, and the power of the good and the right winning out over adversity and ill will.

Oliver, for example, the main character of Dickens’ novel of the same name, faces dire circumstances, circumstances which in deed highlighted numerous social problems of the time, but Oliver also always wins out in the end, escaping terrible conditions and overcoming villains.

Little Orphan Annie? This narrative is simply ludicrous, both as a comic and a film. Here we are exposed to an orphan that has a millionaire on her side. Fate, too, seems to intervene on her behalf, orchestrating circumstances coincidentally in her favor, as when her benefactor luckily discovers her while looking for water.

The most absurd, of course, is Peter Pan. This orphan not only retreats to a magical land, but also can fly, has eternal youth and is endowed with a special cleverness that helps him elude the clutches of dangerous foes. In consideration of the actual realities of orphans, this fantasy can only be construed as macabre.

Here are just a few disconcerting facts:

  • 10% – 15% of orphans commit suicide before turning 18
  • up to 60% of the girls turn to prostitution
  • up to 70% of boys turn to crime
  • of 15,000 orphans leaving state-run institutions due to age restrictions every year, 10% commit suicide, 5,000 are unemployed, 6,000 are homeless and 3,000 are in prison after only three year
  • millions of children are exploited in the multi-billion dollar sex industry

Jewish orphans are no different and face the same circumstances. Donating to an organization like General Israel Home for Girls helps make sure that orphans in Israel have a better shot at avoiding these numbers.



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