The nation is buzzing about the three Ohio girls held captive for, in at least one case, more than a decade allegedly by three depraved brothers (I say “allegedly” because legally that’s required but clearly the evidence all points to them).
Thanks to the bravery of one of the kidnap victims, Amanda Berry, and a neighbor, Charles Ramsey, who didn’t just turn away from a woman screaming for help, all three girls were rescued from the Hell which was Ariel Castro’s house.
As we learn more about how all this happened, we must ask ourselves how this can occur under everyone’s nose and for ten years. Difficult as it is, we must assume that right now other missing women and children are being held in similar circumstances, perhaps even by your own neighbor or coworker.
International human trafficking is a huge problem and one we don’t discuss much in this country. In Europe, where it’s considered much more prevalent, public service advertisements encourage people to report suspicious activities where the possibility exists that someone is being held against her will.
While there is currently no evidence that this was a case of human trafficking, the basic crime is fundamentally the same. Women were held in a sort of sick commune against their will for ten years of their young lives.
Many questions about this case need to be answered, and they are painful questions.
Were the girls chained up? Drugged? Beaten? Threatened? Sexually assaulted? We don’t know all the details yet, but we do know that they were deprived of precious years of their lives by three monsters.
And how did these three get away with these crimes for so long? How did they keep such a secret among them? Neighbors describe one of them as a nice guy with whom they enjoyed barbecue and salsa music. More frightening, this same suspect was a school bus driver! Think about it. Imagine that you are one of the parents who trusted your child’s safety every day to this monster. I’m sure parents in the Cleveland neighborhood where this guy lived and worked are holding their children a little tighter today.
In my opinion, the Castro brothers should all be castrated at the very least. Men like these three who feel they can own and torture women should be taught the most severe lesson possible.
As citizens and neighbors, how do we deal with this crime? Can we take what happened in Cleveland and turn it into some sort of lesson that will prevent crimes like this in the future?
I think we can.
Evidently, this neighborhood in Cleveland is small and close knit. You would think someone would have suspected something in ten years. That’s the first lesson. Most predators are clever enough not to appear predatory. Women who escaped the clutches of Ted Bundy all thought he was a nice upstanding guy. Sick men know that if they walked around with horns on their heads sneering at people, they can’t get away with their crimes. Given that, you just can’t assume that because someone seems nice, they aren’t capable of something awful if other factors in their lives seem odd or out of place. The message here is that neighbors need to watch out for each other and act when something seems suspicious.
I’ve lived in small town Indiana and mega-city, New York City. This crime likely wouldn’t have happened in Indiana. It’s just too close and too quiet. People likely would have noticed something pretty quickly. Then again, you never know.
New York City is quite different. People move fast and do their own thing. They’re so busy with their own lives that they don’t spend a lot of time worrying about someone else. Other than the fact that there are cameras everywhere, you don’t get the feeling that people are paying much attention to each other.
I think there is a big lesson to be learned here and that is that we need to stand together more like communities used to be. With all forms of social media, we tend to forget that someone lives next door or across the street. We need to rebuild that sense of community so that people like the Castro brothers are caught and swiftly punished.