Thursday, January 18, 2007
Leave The Boy Alone
I was aghast at yesterday's frontpage headline in USA Today: WHY DIDN'T HE RUN AWAY? It's a natural question when talking about the kid who was kidnapped and held for four years. Heck, friends of mine wondered the same thing and said that if THEY'D been captured they would have never stopped fighting. But those kids who are self-sufficient and capable and outgoing and not easily cowed are exactly the kids who don't get targeted for sexual abuse. I'm sure something similar is involved with choosing kids to kidnap. I hope and assume the kid's family has kept him away from newspapers and tv (though the other kid -- who was held for just a few days complained about the endless coverage being boring). But even if they did, why raise such a spectre of guilt? The simple response is that it's not the job of an 11 year old kid to escape from a frightening situation like that. However he coped or dealt with this nightmare, he shouldn't and mustn't and needn't feel guilty. Of course, with headlines like that he will. The first obvious reason he might have stayed away is that he was sexually abused, which is what his folks told Oprah they believed happened. And of course the kidnapper might have said he'd kill the kids parents or friends. Or the kid -- after a few days -- would start to blame himself for being kidnapped and think his family would be angry at him for not running away sooner. So he would stay. And then more time would have passed and he'd feel guiltier for not running away and on and on. It's not hard to think of a dozen different scenarios as to why this kid wasn't able to break away from this vile man. Do we really need to dig in and see the TV movie and read the nonficiton bestseller to find out why? Leave him alone.