Friday

shawn hornbeck on oprah

I have been more than a little baffled by the way the parents of Shawn Hornbeck, the Missouri boy held captive for four years and rescued last week, have paraded him all over television since he came home.

They dragged him out to a nationally televised press conference the day after his return. And then, to my horror, they actually had the child appear on Oprah only a week after his rescue. And making matters worse, they told Oprah they believe he was sexually abused while being held.

I am unclear how these two obviously loving parents cannot understand that a 15 year old boy would not want this highly sensitive information disussed by his parents on national television. Shame on them for appearing on Oprah and shame on Oprah WInfrey for asking that incredibly crude and unkind question. As THIS COLUMN POINTS OUT, adult rape victims are given the dignity of having their privacy protected in the press. Poor Shawn Hornbeck has had his privacy violated in the most expoitative way possible by the people who are supposed to be protecting him. I feel like the kid is being raped all over again.

16 comments:

Jane said...

AMEN.

Suzette said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one outraged by this behavior! Did his parents learn nothing from the grace and care that E. Smart's family exemplified? I would sequester my child until he/she felt ready. We all realize what probably happened, why not protect what is left of his privacy? I would definitely not allow OPRAH to interview him...aaaaggggg!

Anonymous said...

marvelous point. but tv is all about the ratings. ;) even if they were conflicted, which i'm sure/i hope they are, that footage would never make it past the cutting room. maybe they're skipping the mental health route in favor of the kidnapping awareness route, going for "normal" and "happily ever after" and "yes it was bad but now it's OVER" too soon... i think the other kid wanted to go back to school right away?

it's a lot to process (and not really "over", i guess). i wonder if there's any kind of advocate anywhere to advise them.

Anonymous said...

(same anonymous--)

"I am unclear how these two obviously loving parents cannot understand that a 15 year old boy would not want this highly sensitive information disussed by his parents on national television."

parents always want control, even if for the best reasons (protecting a kid). hence the kidnapping awareness campaign. ;) and my guess is that the kid is so glad to be home that he'll tell them whatever they want to hear and avoid rocking the boat, even if the appearances were his call.

Anonymous said...

I fear for the moment Shawn has a break regarding what happened to him. It's interesting to watch the interaction between he and his parents. Anything he didn't want to talk about he deferred to them with a look. He also seemed too composed for a victim of such a lengthy and extreme crime. When all has settled and he realizes what has truly happened, it will be emotional. In what way it will manifest with him, we can't say. We can only hope he has the best of counsel and gets through it without incident.

Vol Abroad said...

I didn't see this, but the Oprah revelation was reported on British tv. I didn't realise they dragged the boy onto the show.

There were moments when I couldn't stand being seen at the movies with my mom at 15, never mind being seen on Oprah with my mom talking about her suspicions of sexual abuse.

Anonymous said...

Who would keep a teenage boy hostage for years and not sexually abuse him? Sheesh, morons do we have in the media?

Anonymous said...

Well, and you know comments that start with "well" are going to offer a contrarian point of view, I can't help but wonder if the parents felt they needed to go public with the story in a detailed way because of the considerable speculation that Shawn ran away, that Shawn could have escaped, that Shawn was somehow not a victim in all this. From the outside, his case is not as clear as Elizabeth Smart's. She was disguised when she went out in public with her abductors. Ergo, she was being held against her will - we've got visual proof. Shawn meanwhile was riding around on a bicycle while has captor worked TWO JOBS. The Smarts didn't have a reputation to rehabilitate, a story to set straight, the way Shawn's family does.

It is absolutely unfortunate that Oprah asked about abuse, and that Shawn's parents responded. Awful. Also, I'd love to know if the family and Oprah worked with the family therapist on their appearance. You would hope so. If not, shame on Oprah on that count. She's been doing this for what, 25 years? She should know better.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point. There was something uneasy about watching that show, and I couldn't quite say it. Well, duh. Poor kid. Twice over he doesn't have the parent figure protect him. Possibly his parents were overwhelmed and didn't know any better, but Oprah should be ashamed of herself. Especially with her coyness about her own past.

Anonymous said...

There is some very interesting info regarding this case on Oprah's message board.

Laura Linger said...

I was talking to a friend of mine who works in the homicide bureau of a major U.S. city the other night about this case. He's a cop with 25 years of experience, and before he worked in homicide, he was a detective in missing persons. His take on this case was that it is "hinky," which means it has aspects of it that don't "smell right" to experienced members of law enforcement. While cops are known to be wrong, they are also known to acquire a sixth sense about crimes and people and a bullshit detector the size of Nova Scotia. He and his colleagues call Bullshit on most of this story. There are just far, far too many things that simply don't add up.

Anonymous said...

From the Hornbeck family's website (or in any words, there was some thought behind this, whether you agree with it or not is another thing).

Shawn and his family wish to thank everyone for their support and words of encouragement. We know that everyone is still wanting to speak with the family and with Shawn, but there will now no longer be any media interviews unless Shawn wishes to speak. Shawn and his family carefully decided to get all of the media interviews overwith in one day so any interviews that you may see on TV from now on have all been pre-recorded. We hope that everyone respects the decision of Shawn and his family during these times and will respect their privacy in the future so that Shawn may begin his journey to lead a normal life at home with his family and friends. Thank You! - 1/19/2007

Anonymous said...

Change the perspective. Shawn did nothing wrong. He was victimized. By his parents and Oprah bringing this issue into the open, there is no more taboo about sexual assault. It was nothing that he asked for. it was nothing that he willingly participated in. It is far more common than people realize, yet it is one of those topics that we are suppose to keep behind closed doors. Instead of letting people speculate, they approached the topic as it should be approached. They gave Shawn his power back. His power being his voice. Shawn and his parents did nothing wrong.
It took guts. It's not a topic that is easily dealt with. This is a parent's worst nightmare. Blaming the parents is akin to blaming the victim. Blame the perpetrator, not the victim or the victim's family.

Anonymous said...

I BELIEVE THAT APPEARING ON OPRAH IS WHAT DID IT,, BAD ENOUGH HE HAS BEEN ALL OVER THE NEWS..THE POOR BABY HAS BEEN THROUGH ENOUGH, AS A PARENT MYSELF, IM NOT SURE WHAT HIS PARENTS ARE THINKING..THEY SHOULD HAVE HAD HIM AT HOME AND MAKING SURE HE IS REALLY OKAY. THEY SAY HE WILL TELL THEM WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT. HOW? WHEN YOU ARE SPENDING NO TIME WITH HIM, BUT ALL YOUR TIME IN FRONT OF CAMERAS..IM PRAYING FOR SHAWN. HIS PARENTS SHOULD BE TALKING TO HIM, NOT TO OPRAH..

Anonymous said...

OPRAH SHOULD BE ASHAMED, BUT SHE HAS NO CHILDREN SO SHE HAS NO IDEA..IT MAY HAVE TAKEN GUTS FOR SHAWN TO APPEAR ON OPRAH... BUT HIS FAMILY SHOULD BELIEVE IT TO BE ONLY PROPER TO GIVE THAT CHILD SOME HEALING TIME. FOR GOD SAKE HE JUST RETURNED HOME, LET HIM FIRST EMBRACE THE FACT THAT HE HAS HIS REAL FAMILY AND LIFE BACK..HE WAS OBVIOUSLY UNCOMFORTABLE.,THAT WAS NOT FAIR TO HIM AT ALL.

nina said...

Did nobody else conclude as soon as Shawn was recovered in the home of a single middle-aged man that he was most likely abused? I think by virtue of his case being so public, it was nearly impossible to protect him from that conclusion. I don't think his parents revealed ANYTHING that we weren't all already suspecting. While it is a problem that the publicity of his discovery seems to lead to a public violation of privacy, bashing his parents is hurtful and insensitive to his whole family! Shawn's family love him dearly and are doing everything they can for him and his sisters. Stop blaming the victims!!!