Have you ever seen one of those "if you see something, say something" commercials? They've cropped up since 9/11, a reminder that if something feels "off," it probably is. I can't help thinking of them since I read the story of Mitch Comer, the Georgia teen who cops say was imprisoned by his mom and stepdad in the basement for the past four years, then exiled. When Mitch turned 18, cops say, his stepdad gave him a list of homeless shelters and put him on a cross-country bus.
The only reason we know any of this is because Mitch got lucky. A security guard at the bus station in California where this poor kid ended up took one look at this malnourished kid standing in front of him, and he called the cops.
I can't help wondering what would have happened if he didn't.
Mitch Comer was only 5'3", and he weighed just 97 pounds when he was found. And he's an 18-year-old guy! Cops say he didn't even know his home address back in Georgia. At 18! And when the police did track down his so-called parents (because, really, that word doesn't seem to fit here, does it?) to arrest them, they say Mitch's sisters couldn't quite remember their brother's hair color because it had been so long since they'd seen him.
Basically it sounds like this poor kid was being thrown to the wolves. He might be an "adult" under the eyes of the law, but he obviously wasn't equipped for the wide world out there. And $200, a bus ticket, and a list of homeless shelters aren't exactly "setting someone up for success."
So again, I wonder what would have happened if that eagle-eyed security guard had just brushed it off, figured "kids these days" are always doing weird things to their bodies or decided it wasn't his business to get involved. At best, Mitch would have likely been sucked into the streets. At worst, in that condition of malnutrition, who knows. Would he have died?
Mitch's mom and stepfather are now facing child abuse charges, and he's been sent back to Georgia, where I can only hope he gets some serious help. The security guard saved him, but he's got a long road ahead of him.
What do you think of the way these parents handled this? What should the punishment be here?
Image via Mrs Logic/Flickr