I Know My First Name Is Steven (1989– )
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I first watched this when I was about ten so the abuse went right over my head but even then, at that age, I was saddened by how this boy suffered when he was torn from his family only to be reunited after the damage has been done to his mind and soul. When I watched the film again as a teenage, my sadness was mixed with disgust and anger that the perverted monster that was Parnell was allowed to wander around unchecked despite having a criminal record for offences against children. It was also horrifying to see what little was actually done to either help Steven, as not only when he did try to tell a teacher of his abduction, he was accused of lying and being ungrateful but Parnell was able to freely go from town-to-town with a child who was not his own and with no-one challenging this. This film depicts both the trauma Steven faces as he grew up in such horrifying circumstances and the grief of the parents he left behind but it also shows the courage of the Stayners, who all remained strong through everything.
As true stories go, I think this has to be one of the best films out there and I recommend it to everyone. Do be prepared for your blood pressure to soar though when it is revealed that, infuriatingly, Parnell was let off with a light sentence for kidnapping and abusing Steven. It certainly shattered my illusions that the US has a great criminal justice system that the terribly lax system in the UK should take lessons from. This is one piece of filth who surely deserved a trip on 'Old Sparky' to fry for those vile acts to a little boy who almost loved him as a father to some degree.
No spoilers here, but I assure you that you WILL empathize with the much-abused protagonist, whose life after the film ends proved to be equally tragic.
A true gem. Don't miss it when it replays on LifeTime, or if you can find it at a rental store.
Not only that but readers to this comments index may not be aware that now 71 year old Kenneth Parnell was arrested again in California in January 2003 for trying to buy a little boy!
Lifetime Cable TV should show this movie "I Know My First Name Is Stephen" at least once a month, to remind people everywhere that they have Kenneth Parnells living in their own neighborhood. No longer can parents leave their children alone for even a minute. The world is far too dangerous.
I would like to add that I think Corey Nemec's performance in this film was exceptional and effective. What a talented young man.
People need to see this movie,it's an important life lesson.
God bless the late Steven Stayner.
All in all, it is probably not a movie that parents might want to watch with a young child, but they should as it gives them the opportunity and impetus to talk to their kids about the evil things some people do and what they should do about it if it happens to them, better yet, what they should do to prevent it happening in the first place.
Every parent, or everyone that will be a parent should see this one. It emphasizes the need to tell your children to NOT TALK TO STRANGERS.
This movie was made with a certain amount of class, they did not go for shock value by being more graphic about the sexual abuse going on. It became more apparent during the movie as it played out, yet thankfully the movie makers were more subtle about it in the midst of the movie.
Lifetime Network features a lot of these true to life movies, and kudos to them. I know it is all entertainment, but it is also informative to keep us on the defense of all of the sickos out there.
Steven in real life perished a few years after his escape, and that is tragic. Just as tragic is that Parnell recently tried to buy a child, like a loaf of bread or gallon of milk, for his sick needs. As a free man. Sad.
In closing, any parent or parent to be must see this movie. I know it is somewhat unpleasant, but in this day and age, it is really important to see the elements of a cancer to the innocent American way of life.