In It For Health

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Archive for January 19th, 2007

Is it really Oprah’s fault?

Posted by Dr. Susan on January 19, 2007

Yesterday I was interviewed on CNN about whether Oprah should have had Shawn Hornbeck (the teen that was found after being kidnapped for four years) on her show on Thursday. Oprah has received a lot of bad press about having allowed the teenager to be made so vulnerable so soon (or I suppose ever) after having been through such an ordeal. But, really how is this Oprah’s fault. She is not the boy’s parent or even his therapist–and I certainly hope he has a good one by now. She is a media mogul. It is her JOB to try and get as many interesting, newsworthy and fascinating people on her show as possible. It is not her job to decide whether they should be on her show. And, in fact, she handled Shawn extremely sensitively and did nothing to compromise his mental health as far as she was able, given that he was on national television just days after he was rescued. But this was the choice of his adult caregivers, not Oprah.

It’s time for people to stop blaming the celebrities of the world and start holding parents responsible for their own children–for their children’s behavior and also for making sure they are doing right by them. Should Shawn have been on Oprah’s show–absolutely not. If the Akers wanted to go on TV themselves to discuss the issue of Missing Children or to talk to Oprah, they could have done it without making Shawn so vulnerable. But was it Oprah’s fault? Well, since she’s not his parent or a mental health professional, it was not her decision to make. Leave Oprah alone. Lay blame where it belongs–with Shawn’s parents.

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