Watching this story today on CNN, I was horrified:
A 17 year old, developmentally delayed Missouri teen, locked with handcuffs in his townhouse basement since September and subsiding on instant oatmeal and ramen noodles…
Neighbors suspected trouble, but didn’t report anything to authorities until their fears were shared aloud by another acquaintance…
Authorities intervened on Wednesday, taking the teen to a hospital…
The report ends with the announcement that the parents in the case have not yet been charged.
A neighbor shared her suspicions with reporters:
“You know, three and a half months seems kind of long for him to not be in school,” Reppy told KSHB. “His friends would come over and knock on the door, and (the victim’s stepmother) told them that he was out of town.”
Where were school authorities? How could this happen in a “townhouse” setting without arousing suspicion? And why aren’t the parents in custody?
I don’t have those answers, but the report does have me asking myself if this could happen in my neighborhood without my knowledge. And sadly, my true answer is “Yes”.
On my block, we come and go, zipping in and out of our garages in a rush to our next destinations. We may meet in passing at our mailboxes or on “trash day”, but the most likely exchange in those moments is a simply “hi” at most. I know my neighbors on one side relatively well, but have honestly never once in twelve years conversed with the opposite side fence mates. Atrocious.
So I’m asking myself, how do we get our of our bubbles and into a more neighborly relationship in today’s day and age? If I suddenly knock on my neighbor’s door, proffering a plate of cookies and announcing my name to them for the first time in twelve years, they’re likely to think I’ve gone crazy. But this has to start somewhere, right?
Are you neighborly? Would you feel comfortable reporting a suspicion in your neighborhood? Or are we doomed to be strangers to one another in today’s “i” society, where we’re friends online, but not “in real life”?