Social Worker Review: “Field of Vision”
Social workers who watched an advance copy of “Field of Vision” said NBC’s made-for-television movie, which aired on June 11, accurately depicts bullying and the plight of foster children and could encourage young people to speak out against mistreatment of others.
“I believe it could influence youth to be more tolerant,” said David Shrank, MSW, who has worked with young children in the past but is currently an integrated case manager for the mentally ill in Trenton, NJ. “The movie was fairly accurate in showing the issues faced by a teen that has been in foster care.”
Despite generally positive feedback there was some criticism of the film.
Margaret Lorenz, MSW, a social worker from Floral Park, NY who has worked in schools for 15 years, said the characters in “Field of Vision” were “hokey” and the clichÃ©d plot would turn off her middle school students.
“I did not like the movie — not at all,” she said.
“Field of Vision” is the latest in a series of Family Movie Night Films sponsored by Proctor & Gamble and Walmart and supported by Moms4FamilyTV.
Social workers are some of the nation’s leading experts on bullying and foster care. Officials at Moms4FamilyTV reached out to the National Association of Social Workers to get social workers’ opinions on the film.
“Field of Vision” centers around Corey (actor Joe Adler), a shy yet smart foster child who must adjust to a new town and school, and Tyler McFarland (Tony Oller), the popular captain and quarterback of a high school football team on the cusp of winning the state championship.
Corey, who keeps a cherished photo of his dead mother with him at all times, joins the football team but is soon bullied by some of his teammates. Tyler must decide whether to keep silent or report the bullying and jeopardize his team’s championship bid.
Tyler’s mother Jody (Faith Lord), who is also the high school counselor, tries to help Corey acclimate to his new environment, learn more about his deceased mother, and find the birth father he never knew. And Tyler’s little sister Lucy (Alyssa Shafer) has a magical video camera that shows images that confirm Corey is being bullied and offer hints to where Corey can find his father.
“I loved the movie,” said Artan Hughes, MSW, a school social worker from Detroit. “It started out slow and I was confused about the video camera but when things started picking up I was on the edge of my seat to see what was going to happen next.”
Francine Parker, LMSW, a certified school social work specialist from Hutchinson, KS, said some of the scenes in the movie of family members kissing each other, eating together, and reading at bedtime were a bit Pollyannaish. Still, it was wise for filmmakers to include the scenes to show young people what family relationships can be like, she said.
Parker said children will also get a better picture of what it is like to be a foster child who may be grieving a dead parent and absent siblings and compelled to live in the homes of strangers in unfamiliar communities.
“Youth may see they take their family relationships for granted,” Parker said.
Lois Swearington, MSW, just ended her master’s degree internship at two schools in Los Angeles Unified School District 8. Bullying was also the subject of her research proposal this past year, she said.
Swearington said the use of football in the film is a good way to draw in young people, especially middle school children. She also said Tyler’s decision to do what is morally right or what is best for self is a good lesson for children, although Lorenz said Tyler’s character is so “heroic” it would be difficult for anyone to believe he was conflicted about helping Corey.
”I think it was a great concept because that is something that teens will not only be faced with in school but as they enter the work field as they get older,” Swearington said. “This seems like a great family movie that can start conversation in small groups or classrooms.”
Two National Association of Social Work staffers who reviewed the movie, Bekki Ow-Arhus, MSW, LICSW, and Kamiilah Omari, MSW, LLMSW, also thought the portrayal of bullying was accurate. However, they had serious concerns about the actions of Jody, the school counselor and mother of Tyler and Lucy.
Jody actions may have violated ethical and regulatory rules in some states, they said. These violations included discussing Corey’s case with her family, talking to Corey about his foster care status and deceased mother in a hallway where other students could hear, and independently searching for Corey’s birth father without consulting the courts or a social worker who may have handled his foster care case.
”She had huge confidentiality issues,” Ow-Arhus said. “All that private detective stuff was inappropriate.”
“If they are going to truly portray the reality of school personnel having to deal with a foster child and finding out information about biological parents and connecting them to biological parents, they have to connect to that system (social workers and the courts),” Omari said. “That is not optional.”
The filmmakers could have gotten around this problem by having Jody mention that she consulted with authorities before attempting to connect Corey with his birth father, Ow-Arhus and Omari said. Still, the two social workers liked the movie and thought it was uplifting and educational.
“Corey was dealing with what a lot of foster kids or kids who have lost a parent deal with — grief and loss,” Omari said.
“It was an interesting movie and I liked the fantasy camera,” Ow-Arhus said.
To watch the “Field of Dreams” trailer click here.
Social workers play a vital role in helping young people overcome life’s hurdles. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Kids & Families Web page by clicking here. NASW has also taken a strong stand against bullying. To read more about NASW’s position, click here.| Leave A Comment