Earlier this month a Californian couple were arrested after it emerged they had imprisoned and abused their thirteen children. The case gathered a lot of media attention after it came to light that the parents had maintained a bizarre array of Facebook photos that made it look like the children led happy lives whilst living a secret life filled with horrific abuse and imprisonment.
Over the last week the full extent of the Turpin family’s abuse started to come to life and people were shocked and disgusted to see just how sadistic and twisted the couple were. Many of the younger children were so isolated they could not read or write, and did not know what a policeman was. The eldest child who was 27, however, had managed to keep a diary and did attend school for a short period of time.
Now one of her schoolmates have come forward and revealed the “rude awakening” he experienced when he read, along with the rest of the world, about the Turpins’ imprisonment of their children. In particular, he details how the eldest Turpin daughter was brutally bullied by her classmates. He wrote,
“Of course, none of us are responsible for the events that ensued, but you can't help but feel rotten when the classmate your peers made fun of for 'smelling like poop' quite literally had to sit in her own waste because she was chained to her bed. It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story.”
He goes on to state that the girl was singled out “because her clothes would sometimes look as though they had been dragged through mud, which she would also smell like on most days. I distinctly remember my entire third grade class scoffing at her one day because our teacher had asked her to discard a scrunchy she had used to tie her hair out of a discarded tin foil wrapper from an old Hershey's bar.”
Ultimately, he is right to identify that what happened to the Turpin family was the fault of no one but their family. But there is still a lesson that the rest of us can learn.
“The resounding lesson here is a simple one, something that we're taught from the very beginning: be nice. Teach your children to be nice. If you see someone that's isolated, befriend them. If you see someone that's marginalized, befriend them. If you see someone that's different, befriend them. We can never completely put ourselves in others' shoes nor can we completely understand the circumstances that one is brought up in, but a simple act of kindness and acceptance may be the ray of hope that that person needs.”