Friday, January 19, 2007

Asking The Right Questions About Shawn Hornbeck

With all the interest in the return of the 2 Missouri boys to their families, I've heard offensive, victim-blaming comments from people like Rush Limbaugh, but some important questions aren't being asked.

1) Why didn't Shawn's friend who joked that he looked just like the missing boy, contact the police instead of asking someone who if he were kidnapped could be too terrified to give an honest answer?

From Yahoo News:

Another friend said she would tease Hornbeck when they saw news coverage about missing posters with his likeness.“We would even kind of giggle about it and say you look just like Shawn Hornbeck but he never acted on it, no response, nothing,” Kelly Douglas told Fox News.
Obviously, we can't go back and this friend shouldn't be shamed for how he responded to the similarity. But what needs to happen is for people to realize there is a better response to the appearance of similiarities.

My suggestion would be to collect as much information as possible before reporting to the police or to a hotline so the police have more to go on in case the child disappears. Details like the license plate of the car the child gets into. Then let the authorities investigate so they can verify the child's identity.

If the child isn't the missing child then no harm has been done.

2) What can we tell children so they will know when it is worth the risk to reveal their identity if they are kidnapped?

If all we tell children is what not to do (don't get in a car with a stranger), they won't have any idea of what they can do to get free. They won't know if the person who hurt them can make good on their threats.

We also need to tell them that nothing they are forced to do by a kidnapper is their responsibility and nothing that happens to them will make them less wanted or less loved.

Children need to know how to approach the police so they won't be at risk of being returned to their kidnapper as a child who tells wild lies.

We need to learn how kidnappers control their victims and so we can give potential victims more practical tools they can use if they become victims without making them live in a constant state of fear.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:35 PM   3 comments links to this post


At January 19, 2007 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the Steven Stayner movie years ago and hoped nothing like that would ever happen again, and I'm very disturbed by this. At the very least, someone else should have been suspicious enough to find out what was going on. Is anything else like this happening somewhere that we don't even know about?

While it's too early to tell, some think he was scared into not coming forward himself. I remember being taught that people can make threats to hurt your family with no way of actually doing so- I can't help wondering if he was ever told that.

At January 22, 2007 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't blame the neighbors, or Shawn's Kirkwood friends, too much. We live in a society that does not welcome "interference" from outsiders. The few times I have tried to intevene for a child ("Ma'am, your toddler really needs to be in a car seat for his own's a program where you can borrow one;" " really shouldn't let your kid play in the street on this corner--cars come through here pretty fast;" and so on) all I've gotten is a look to kill, and a shrieked, "Don't you tell ME how to raise MY child!" The several times I've asked for more police and crossing guard oversight at the busy intersection by the school nearby, I've simply been written off as a the "local busybody." Nobody ever says, "Thanks for calling the police because my child looks like that missing kid..." No, they are angry that you ever could have thought they would do something like that! How dare you besmirch their good name! Maybe they'll sue for defamatiopn of character! Or maybe they'll retaliate in some other way. "It takes a village" aside...nobody ever really wants that village to intervene when it's THEIR child. And in this day of lawsuits, road rage, etc., I don't blame bystanders for standing by.

At January 23, 2007 2:34 PM, Blogger Kaethe said...

I can't blame the friend for not doing something. I think kids know just how much credibility they have with the police. If a kid calls up a hotline and says "my friend looks like that missing kid", do we imagine that the police are going to say "thanks" and get right on that?

Have you read Protecting the Gift by Gavin De Becker? I don't think it is possible to give anyone, let alone children, practical tools that will serve them against adults with evil intent. They're kids. They can and will be manipulated, and that's why adults pick them.

The best we can do, I think, is to tell our kids: whenever you need help, go to a woman. And we can raise our voices high against asshats like Rush, and be heard saying: Shawn did great! Outstanding! He survived, didn't he? How many of us could manage the same?


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