What gets me is that everyone is so surprised when a kidnapped child is held captive in broad daylight, when the child could easily run away. You know, people get suspicious, like “why wouldn’t the kid go for help when he could?”
First of all, remember being eleven years old. Need your memory jogged? That’s easy enough, all you have to do is look at a bunch of kids at the mall or elsewhere. How are they behaving? Like kids, which is to say, kind of dumb, like they don’t get anything. They’re insecure, they’re awkward, they’re unsure of their place. They’re pretty much still a child. But they’re getting old enough to understand some things. When I was eleven, I was in fifth, maybe sixth grade. At the time I thought I was the shit. I look back now and I think, holy shit. I was so vulnerable and small. I can’t believe my mom let me walk home from school every day. Someone could have taken me so easily.
But my mom was really with it. A world-champion worrier, she made us call her at work as soon as we got home, and if we were late doing that, she was calling us. All afternoon we were allowed to call her over just about anything. If I felt like it, I could call my mom and complain about Dani’s unrighteous dictatorship. And I did, all the time.
The other thing she did that was strange to me at the time was make me memorize her calling card, and also how to call her collect. She told me that if anyone ever took me against my will and told me that if I ran away or called her or went to another adult for help, they’d kill me or my mom, I was to try to get help anyway. I was to run away at the first chance I got.
Now, I know that sounds crazy, because some kidnapper might have killed me if I had tried to get away. But what are the odds? I mean, honestly, what’s a kidnapper going to do with a child? Generally one of two things and I don’t think I need to name them*. Well okay, I’ll name one of them: they’re going to sell the child on the black market. Now, I don’t really know what that means, but my mom occasionally threatened selling me to the gypsies when I was bad, and I assume that translates to the black market. I’ve named one, you can figure out the second.
So anyway. You remember what it was like to be eleven. Now use your imagination and pretend you’re an eleven-year old, who has just been pulled into a car by a stranger and the stranger is taking you lord knows where. And they hurt you. And verbally abuse you and scare you. It’s a few days later and now you can go outside, but they tell you if you tell anyone anything that’s happened, they’ll kill you or your parents. So, what do you do? You’re eleven, do you even want to talk to a stranger? The stranger might be twenty times worse than the guy who took you. Can you trust anyone?
I know, it’s crazy. Can you believe these kidnapped kids? Let’s make a leap here, can you believe those moronic women who don’t leave their abusive husbands? How can they be silent when they’re being pummeled by someone who’s supposed to love them (and sometimes does, supposedly)? Another leap: can you believe those idiots in Communist China, or the former Communist U.S.S.R.? I mean, how can they stay in a country where they have no rights? Why don’t they flee? Why don’t they sneak out? I’m sure they could get away when no one was looking.
Okay, so maybe the last one is too much of a stretch, but the point remains the same: people, even adults, have fragile minds. We can easily begin to believe we’re worthless, that we deserve punishment, that we shouldn’t defend ourselves and our rights, that we have no rights, that Communist Russia is better than Switzerland (and anyway, we can’t get to Switzerland, we’re trapped, really, we are), and that Michael Devlin’s apartment is safer than running away.y \\
Why wouldn’t an eleven-year old boy run away? Better ask why an entire country would allow one man -- one evil dictator -- to continue to rule. That’s what I really can’t understand, because I completely get why a boy would be afraid to get help from a stranger after enduring any amount of abuse, most notably, the violation of your very freedom and trust in the world.
And if parents were wary, maybe they’d tackle the kidnapping issue with their children before someone else has a chance to impress their delicate minds with lies and threats. I don’t know for certain, but I feel pretty strongly that if someone had taken me, I would have tried to get free because of what my mom told me: go for help when you get the chance.**
*Because your’re not stupid, contrary to what Oprah might think. Why the hell did she have to get Shawn Hornbeck’s parents to publicly announce that he was sexually abused by Devlin on national television? Is that going to help him? Poor kid.
**My overall derisive tone is mainly directed at the suspicious reporters in the media.