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ABC News' '20/20' reports on Jani Schofield

March 12, 2010 |  9:27 am

47736551-28185210 The June 29 L.A. Times story "Jani is at the mercy of her mind," touched off a long-running discussion among Times readers about the need for services for young children with severe mental illness and support for their families. Friday evening, the ABC News show "20/20" airs a program on Jani Schofield, 7, and two other California children with crippling mental illness.

Correspondent Jay Schadler follows Jani and her family as they try to remain united while living in two separate apartments -- a measure needed to protect Jani's toddler brother from her occasional violence. The hour also includes interviews with a 9-year-old child Jani befriended while an inpatient at UCLA's child psychiatry inpatient unit, Rebecca Stancil; and a 13-year-old who fears hurting her siblings, Brenna Wohlenberg.

In the report, titled "Haywire," cameras catch the profoundly disturbing behavior that the children and their families experience almost every day. The effect of severe mental illness on the patients' siblings is heartbreaking, and the stress on parents is frightening. It's not easy to watch. But it's a telling look at the tragedy of an illness that remains stigmatized and hidden from most of society.

Here's a preview. The show airs Friday at 10 p.m.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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