And now, it’s time to move forward. Following TLC’s cancellation of its smash reality series 19 Kids and Counting on Thursday, July 16, the network’s president Marjorie Kaplan was candid about how Josh Duggar‘s molestation scandal opened her eyes to the issue of child abuse.
Kaplan, who heads TLC, Animal Planet, and Velocity, told the Associated Press on Thursday that she was “completely unaware” of how pervasive the issue of child abuse was. “I have learned a lot about this issue since,” Kaplan said, citing one staggering statistic of one in 10 children are victims of sexual abuse.
“This is a fundamental problem in this country, so we’ve become quite passionate about making sure that we educate people,” Kaplan continued. “We feel like we have a real obligation and an opportunity to create a moment here for people to be educated and for victims to find ways to come forward.”
That obligation has translated itself into a partnership with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which was announced just moments after TLC confided that it had canceled 19 Kids. “We are pleased to be partnering with TLC to fight child sexual abuse, and appreciate its efforts to spur a national dialogue about this issue,” RAINN said in a statement released to Us Weekly. “Child sexual abuse affects millions of families across the nation, and we all have a responsibility to work together to end it.”
“We spent the past month and a half in thoughtful consideration about what is the best way forward here,” she admitted, further noting of RAINN: “We anticipate this will be a long-term partnership with them.”
TLC is also partnering with Darkness to Light, another organization that looks to provide a means to protect children from sexual abuse. “We took it as an opportunity to step further than just ‘How do we protect ourselves?’ and step into ‘How do we protect our audience and protect children?'” Kaplan told the AP. “Our hope is to do more of that, in a way that’s thoughtful and respectful of the victims of child abuse — in the Duggar family and across America.”
The network has plans to create a documentary centered on the issue. “The goal is to take what has been a difficult and painful experience, and focus that attention on the really critical issue of child protection and child sexual abuse,” Kaplan explained.
Kaplan said Jessa and Jill Duggar, who were among Josh’s five molestation victims (four of whom were his sisters) in 2002, have expressed interest in being part of this documentary. “They’re interested in putting the focus on this issue, too,” the network head revealed.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar addressed TLC’s decision on Thursday. “With God’s grace and help Josh, our daughters and our entire family overcame a terrible situation, found healing and a way forward. We are so pleased with the wonderful adults they have all become,” the parents noted. “We look forward to working with TLC on this upcoming special documentary and hope that it is an encouragement to many.”
The 10th season of the reality show ended in the wake of the scandal this past May. “It’s no secret that 19 Kids and Counting was a really, really hit show,” Kaplan said. “But we have some other great shows, both on the air and in the pipeline.”