TV One’s new series explores how family can be the problem and the solution for black boys at risk

By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D.,

Reality television has been taken to task for being a wasteland of contrived situations, abhorrent behavior and the exploitation of women, children and poor people.


Most of the boys featured in the show start out as great, outgoing, loyal and loving kids who slowly become someone else during the tween years. Dr. Perry walks their parents (mostly single mothers) down the path of how this happened and what needs to change so that the children’s lives can be saved.

Finally, a television network has managed to pull together a reality show that focuses on women and children without being exploitative in nature; instead, TV One’s Save My Son, hosted by educator Dr. Steve Perry, attempts to intervene in the lives of boys who are at risk of becoming statistics — either serving time in prison or lying six feet underground because of criminal behavior.

At the heart of this show are Dr. Perry’s efforts to tackle this subject by including the family, most of whom appear to be single women trying to raise young men without the presence of a father in the home.

Dr. Perry introduces viewers to the child and the child’s family dynamics, carefully laying out the problems he is facing. Perry includes celebrity mentors such as Steve Harvey, Jalen Rose, Derek Anderson, Ruben Studdard, actor Pooch Hall and self-help guru Iyanla Vanzant. The host has candid conversations with parents who may be doing more harm than good because of an unwillingness to see what’s going on in the lives of their children or their role in perpetuating dysfunctional behavior.

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