In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

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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2 Responses to “Is it really Oprah’s fault?”

  1. Mark said

    You can’t let Oprah off the hook so easily. She has the final say who appears on her show and who doesn’t. Parents can decide to put their kids on TV, to the kid’s benefit or detriment, but they can’t make it happen until someone like Oprah steps in and works her will to exploit the situation. Saying it’s her JOB to do what she did does not relieve her of responsibility.

  2. Dr. Susan said

    Mark, you have a point, but I am tired of parents passing the buck and not taking responsibility for what’s in the best interest of their children–and, for that matter for not taking responsibility for their children’s behavior either at times.

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