Parenting Tips from Law & Order SVU

Readers — This McSweeney’s post by  Beth Levine and Liz Dancho is soooo good. It’s called “Parenting Tips I Learned from Law & Order: SVU” and includes such advice as:

Don’t raise your kids in New York City. They will end up running their own adult website and spending all their money on video games.

Don’t raise your kids in Connecticut. They will just steal your car and take joy rides into New York with their friends, who will most likely kill them and leave them in the trunk.

Warn your kids to stay inside on garbage day. Piles of trash almost always have bodies in them.

If your stepson is acting funny, check the cellar for child slaves….

Read more here. And for your viewing pleasure, here is the  star (Cameron Ocasio) of  an SVU episode involving a 9-year-old who wanted to ride the subway alone:

Cameron Ocasio starred in a Law & Order episode about a boy who takes the subway alone.

Cameron Ocasio 

Needless to say, it did not end well. And here is my son who rode the subway alone at 9. He’s fine. – L

And here's Izzy Skenazy, when he took the subway alone. Hmmm.

Izzy Skenazy. 

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30 Responses to Parenting Tips from Law & Order SVU

  1. anonymous mom January 15, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    I think a statistically significant portion of the blame for our hysteria over child abductions and sex offenders can be placed on the L&O franchise.

    Which is kind of gross, if you think about it. We’re watching stories about women and children being abducted, raped, tortured sadistically, and murdered in the most heinous ways possible by monstrous men, for our entertainment. And then we become convinced that that’s actually how the world is, maybe because it makes us feel better to think that we’re watching a depiction of reality than to imagine that we’re in many cases inventing stories of human depravity because we enjoy watching it.

  2. Emily January 15, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Lenore…..I’m not a lawyer, but, can the producers of Law and Order SVU do that? They chose an actor who looks almost exactly like your son, and used him in the same “child rides the subway alone” storyline, to denigrate your parenting decisions on national television. Donna, you’re a lawyer; what do you think? It seems hinky to me.

  3. Filioque January 15, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    Lenore, I can’t decide if you should be furious or just amused that the actor they chose for that episode could easily pass as your third child!

  4. lollipoplover January 15, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    So I was curious to see how the SVU with the Izzy lookalike went.
    “Cameron Ocasio plays Nico Gray, a gypsy boy who goes missing after going to school alone for the first time. ‘Law & Order: SVU'”

    Of course! Only a gypsy would let their son do this! I didn’t know you were gypsy, Lenore.

    Real-life SVU should feature the CPS follow-up visits even though the commute goes just fine. Focus on the lawyer and court costs and the turmoil it puts good families in. That’s the true madness.

  5. Brenna January 15, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    I refuse to watch L&O anymore, especially SVU. It gives such a warped sense of reality, and people believe it’s real, especially when they do that disgusting “ripped from the headlines” tag. I’m with lollipoplover – show the damage CPS does. That’s reality.

  6. Emily January 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I had the same thought as the other Emily – seems like some “coincidence” that they used an actor who looks like your child in a story that mirrors your own. If it were me, I’d be upset.

  7. lollipoplover January 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    Ripped from headlines, leaving a sleeping toddler in a car to run in for milk is now child abuse in New Jersey.

    http://newjersey.news12.com/news/nj-court-finds-leaving-child-alone-in-car-is-abuse-1.6802894

  8. John January 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    Goodness gracious! If they were both 9 at the same time, that kid could pass for Izzy’s fraternal twin brother!! I also wonder if this was deliberate.

  9. anonymous this time January 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Deliberate… umm… ya think?

    When I had a TV, I was a L&O addict. I used to spin the channels until I heard that familiar “KUNG KUNG” sound of the opening of those shows and would happily watch any episode of any of the franchise.

    And I never, ever, EVER thought it was a documentary.

    And my then-husband, a lawyer, enjoyed taking apart the courtroom aspects of the show.

    At one point in my life, I was ripped apart on the Rush Limbaugh show. I took it as an affirmation that what Rush objected to was my heart’s desire. I knew I was on a good path.

    Perhaps Lenore took the L&O “reinvention” of her story the same way. The writers twisted it around to make it sensational: exactly what she’s saying the media and entertainment industry does. A perfect illustration!

  10. Melanie Jones January 15, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    lollipop lover – that’s a show I would watch! Maybe real reality is too scary for television???

  11. Christine Hancock January 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    I stopped watching that genre a long time ago. In fact L&O type shows are one of the three main reasons I will not pay for cable television. I will not pay to watch women and children raped, tortured, and killed on prime time (and I’m not so fond of watching men get it either); nor will I pay for reality TV, especially when my own real life is so much more interesting; and I will not pay to spend half my entertainment time watching commercials. I have much better things to do with my time.

    Interestingly, since I’ve stopped watching those shows, the world started looking far less dangerous and hostile. It doesn’t alway look fuzzy and sweet, but it does look livable mot of the time.

  12. AztecQueen2000 January 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    I think the episode with the kid riding the subway alone is actually based of the Leiby Kletzky murder. Think insular community, one of their own as prime suspect…
    I really think the resemblance to your son is mere coincidence.

  13. Brian January 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    AztecQueen — it’s probably both . SVU likes to combine multiple hot issues into one episode to increase interest and probably also to avoid slander lawsuits. For example, they didn’t do episodes purely about Paula Deen and George Zimmerman, they did an episode where a Paula Deen stand-in shot a black kid she thought was threatening her.

  14. Ben January 15, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    I’ve watched plenty of SVU, but I can’t remember half the episodes these list items were based on. Does anyone have a clue?

    As for Cameron Ocasio: I’m convinced his look is no coincidence. The only reason that it didn’t play out exactly as how it happened to Izzy, is because that’s crappy television.

  15. Ben January 15, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    By the way, I agree with Brian. There have been several episodes that combined several well-known news stories into one tale.

  16. Papilio January 15, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    Yeah, I remember that episode. Now that I know the story behind it, I still think motive-wise it would have been more interesting to kill the fictional mom and not the fictional kid. All those real-life helicopter parents that were so angry about the imagined danger the real-life kid had had to endure certainly had some – eh – interesting ideas that would indeed have landed this fictional mom’s murder case on the SVU’s desk instead of that of Homicide…
    But maybe killing a somewhat public figure who made and talked about a parenting decision that others consider dangerous would have been too far beyond obvious…

    “We’re watching stories about women and children being abducted, raped, tortured sadistically, and murdered in the most heinous ways possible by monstrous men, for our entertainment. And then we become convinced that that’s actually how the world is

    That mental leap is something I just can’t get. Just how small has the difference between fictional crime series and actual news reports become that people can’t tell them apart anymore????
    I guess I should be dead scared of the mere thought of ever going to New York City, considering all those series I regularly watch, but the idea of avoiding the place because of some fictional series is actually just very funny to me.

    “Of course! Only a gypsy would let their son do this!”

    Actually this particular fictional gypsy mom was very concerned about her son. He had to convince her to let him go and even said that he was (one of) the last kid(s) in his class that didn’t already travel to school alone.

  17. Papilio January 15, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    “that’s a show I would watch! Maybe real reality is too scary for television???”

    Could that perhaps explain why Lenore’s TV show still hasn’t been broadcasted in the USA…?

  18. JJ January 15, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    That show is still on?

  19. BL January 15, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    “Just how small has the difference between fictional crime series and actual news reports become that people can’t tell them apart anymore????”

    Well, remember that way back in 1938 a radio dramatization of HG Wells’s “War of the Worlds” caused a panic because people thought Martians were actually invading:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds_(radio_drama)

    “some 6 million heard the CBS broadcast; 1.7 million believed it to be true, and 1.2 million were ‘genuinely frightened'”

  20. Nobody January 15, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    OMG, Gilbert Gottfried is in that episode. His voice is so irritating. I haven’t watched that show in years.

  21. Peter January 15, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    I was never a big fan of SVU, but I did like Law & Order back when “Lenny” (Jerry Orbach) was on. Great scripts and it showed the whole process–from crime to arrest to conviction. Most other shows stopped at arrest, so it was interesting to see the whole thing.

    I watched a couple of episodes of SVU, but wasn’t impressed. Unlike Law & Order, it seemed to be more about the detectives than the cases. When I saw the male detective having breakfast with his family, I knew it was a different show and they just stuck “Law & Order” in front of it to try to bring some of those fans over.

  22. Rachel January 15, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    I didn’t see the episode, but I bet SUV took the story from Izzy and Lenore. The story is so similar, and the kid looks a lot like Izzy! How fun! (Yeah, I know Law and Order provides anti-free range feelings in some…but to me it’s just entertainment). Doesn’t SUV owe you some royalties?

  23. Havva January 15, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    “Just how small has the difference between fictional crime series and actual news reports become that people can’t tell them apart anymore????”

    I don’t think it is so much about the difference being small but about triggering layers of memories. I used to be a fan of Law & Order. And there was a mental game with each episode of “okay, which headline are they playing with today?” I would usually get a strong read of something recent and a faint sense that there was something else that I didn’t quite remember from way back that they were also referencing. Now in Dec 2011 (when that episode aired) most would have recognized that this was a fictionalization of the Leiby Kletzky murder from just a few months earlier. The subway angle and the cute curly haired boy would trigger a very hazy memory of Izzy (back in 2008), but not in any detail.

    I have a good idea what people remembered about Izzy at the end of 2011, because that was when I discovered Free Range Kids. When I talked to other parents in the office about it, the reaction went something like this… “Um..Oh…Um…right the subway, I heard about that. What happened, anyway?” Of course I filled them in. And there was usually a “oh, that was all” response.

    But if someone at that time watched this L&O SVU episode instead. They would probably be similarly tickled into a vague remembrance. But they would be left to assume that one way or another it ended badly. Maybe not L&O bad (because obviously that is fiction) but none-the-less some form of bad, because after all it was on the news, so something important must have happened, right?

    So when a person watches a lot of that and has lots of these fuzzy memory triggers, I don’t think it is such a huge leap to get to thinking. “Crud, the world is so full of so much horrible stuff, I can’t even keep it all straight!” Except that the fuzzy memory, at least for this episode, wasn’t even of something horrible. And now I wonder how many of these secondary triggers, are of things that were just odd, not horrific. I know the last time mom turned it on, the main thing it reminded me of was a medical ethics controversy, not child abuse (of course they had turned it into child abuse).

  24. Havva January 15, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    “I guess I should be dead scared of the mere thought of ever going to New York City, considering all those series I regularly watch.”

    I have to admit that when I first went to NYC and saw central park, I was stunned that it wasn’t full of dark scary nooks and crannies. With it’s reputation on TV I was sure it would at least LOOK scary.

  25. SOA January 15, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    LOL I guess you are famous now officially. You have been SVUed.

  26. bmommyx2 January 16, 2014 at 2:03 am #

    funny how that little boy looks so much like your own. Gypsies, LOL. I used to watch that show every once in a while if I happened upon it by accident & got sucked into the story. It’s a bit much so I rarely watch it. I like shows that are a bit more creative with their stories

  27. Donna January 16, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    “I’ve watched plenty of SVU, but I can’t remember half the episodes these list items were based on. Does anyone have a clue?”

    I Was a big SVU fan until I went to Samoa and couldn’t watch it anymore. I remember most of them, although not by name.

    No, I don’t think Lenore can sue over the use of a likeness of Izzy in this story any more than Paula Deen can over the Paula Deen lookalike episode recently. Izzy’s story and picture was in the public domain.

  28. Katie January 16, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    This is why I hate mainstream television and its ever declining and fear mongering state. For starters let me say I find it bizare that even the “news” is referring to you son riding the subway as an “adventure” in the headlines. As if somehow there are monsters under the train and in the walls and he had to slay a few of them on his way home. That they want to try to make some twisted law and order SVU version that has nothing to do with reality based on it to warp peoples minds and confuse them about the truth is absolutely insane.

  29. Papilio January 16, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    @Havva: Okay, that explains a lot. So the difference IS small, due to people’s memories…
    I don’t watch or read American news, so I have no idea if there ever was something similar in the headlines. (The only time I actually recognized a story was the episode on the male twin, one of which had a failed circumcision so some idiot doctor had convinced the parents to just raise him as a girl.)
    So for me it’s just entertainment without any links to reality, while you kind of get the message of doom in stereo… especially when the actual news brings it in a fearmongering way.

  30. dancing on thin ice January 16, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    I remember Lenore mentioning the look-alike kid in this episode a few years ago but never saw a photo. I thought she did so before the Leiby Kletzky murder, but the date in the link may be for a rerun. Leiby Kletzky happened only a few months before this episode aired making it unlikely they were able to write, shoot and edit a story based on it. Both the Leiby Kletzky and Etan Patz stories were in NYC but neither involved the subway.