An Eye on Abuse
It's impossible to rip into a movie which has it's heart in the right place especially when the focus of the movie is child abuse. But for anyone who decides to watch "Kids Don't Tell" must remember that this movie is now over 25 years old and was made at a time when the subject and general knowledge of child abuse was not as open as it is now. As such when I say that "Kids Don't Tell" struggles as a movie is not a condemnation of the subject matter but because its motive seems more to be educational for audiences rather than to work as a movie with a narrative.
Editor John Ryan (Michael Ontkean) is approached by his friend Eli (John Sanderford) with a job offer as Eli has permission to make a documentary about child abuse. Initially uneasy about working on such a hard hitting topic John agrees and as he becomes increasingly involved the more it affects him as he becomes concerned over those around his own child. It also causes a wedge between him and his wife Claudia (JoBeth Williams) until she tells him a secret she has kept all her life.
So as I said as a movie with a narrative "Kids Don't Tell" does struggle as what we have is partly how having his eyes opened to the subject of child abuse leads him to being very cautious about his own child but also how it affects his marriage. What there is of this is good and finishes in a very good way as it elaborates on the title with the scenes surrounding his wife but it does struggle as a strong enough vehicle for the movie.
But in truth when you take into account that this made for TV movie was made mid 80s you kind of understand that the intention was less about delivering a story but highlighting various aspects of child abuses. And as an educational piece "Kids Don't Tell" works from how the police deal with things to how children are affected as well. Much of what is detailed in the movie is now widely known but it acts as a good reminder and to be honest would still work as an education piece for children.
What this all boils down to is that "Kids Don't Tell" is very much an educational movie and a product of the 80s when the subject of child abuse was not as openly talked about as it is now. It does have it problems but is still surprising effective at being educational and eye opening.