I Know My First Name Is Steven (TV Mini-Series 1989) Poster

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I remember this movie!
hisangel09200210 June 2005
I remember so much of this movie even though I was only 9 at the time, it was that good. For 15 years now all I had to go by was I knew the title was something like "I know my name is Steven" but didn't really go into looking for it. I'm so glad that I just happened to look up Luke Edwards because of another movie he was in or else I wouldn't have come across one of the most unforgettable movies I've seen in my childhood. Hopefully now I'll be able to buy it and add it to my collection. I highly recommend this movie to anyone even if you don't have children and if you do have children, make sure that they see this movie so then they are aware of how dangerous is it to walk alone even if you think the street is safe. It never hurts to have someone with you just in case. The most memorable part of this movie is when Steven paints his name on the garage and when his father is washing the garage door after he gets kidnapped..... well it's a part of the movie that no one should forget. Excellent movie!
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I cried my eyes out!!!
melz2cool29 August 2002
I first saw this movie around 1994. At the time, my sons were ages 6,5, and 3. It was a holiday and my husband took all three boys out of town to visit his mother. So all alone I pulled up a chair in front of the television and became completely engrossed in this movie. I sat there in my chair and absolutely cried so much my face was swolen afterwards.It is now 2002 and I have seen that movie at least 9 times. Throughout the years, I have taught all three of my boys to never to go with strangers, they know their address, and phone number. A few years after this movie, I was reminding my oldest son about what to do if a stranger approached. He angrily said " I know ! I know !" Because I had told him repeatedly what to do after watching that movie. So I grabbed his shoulders and replied " GOOD, then you will know what to do if it happens to you!" I truly felt that if I ever would meet Kenneth Parnell that I would want to kill him. I want to assure you that I would never do anything like that, but the anger that I felt towards him was justified at the time. How can this kind of thing happen? It is now 2002 and Steven Stayner is still in my thoughts. I think every parent should see this movie and cry their hearts out and feel the pain that Dell and his wife went through. I know not to give away the ending of the movie, but I want to say that I was relieved when I heard what happened to Steven. I knew then that he would never have to suffer any longer. In closing, I want to say, peace to you Steven,your wife, children and family. I also want to say that the casting of the movie was perfect. LOVE MELZ
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Disturbing to think this is a true story
cosmic_quest29 April 2004
This film revolves around the true story that begins in 1972 with the abduction of seven-year-old Steven Stayner, who was snatched on his way home from school by a known paedophile Kenneth Parnell. Steven was then kept as the man's son for seven years and forced for endure systematical sexual abuse at the hands of his kidnapper. He finally managed to escape when Parnell abducted a five-year-old boy whom Steven was determined would not suffer as he had. However, upon his return to his real family-- who never gave up that he would be reunited with them one day-- Steven found it hard to adjust as he had no understanding of what it was to be part of a loving family. I have since read that he was killed in a car accident when he was twenty-nine, tragically snatched away from his family for good this time.

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.
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Don't Pass This One Up!
BarefootBoy20 January 2002
This well-crafted, well-acted made-for-TV movie breaks the mold of your typical docu-drama.

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.
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dtucker8630 August 2003
I read a book on Stevens ordeal and the author said that the Stayner's of Merced were as cursed as the Kennedys of Massachusetts. I cannot believe that so much horror could happen in one family. Steven was abducted for seven years and came home maimed mentally for life and died at 24 in a terrible accident. I think in a way death was kind to him and then in the last few years his brother Cary was convicted of murdering four women in Yosemite National Park. What got me is that Cary tried to use Stevens disappearance as an excuse. He said he was so traumatized by it.
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Depressing and sad but true.
OliverGbyrne19 November 2004
What an incredible TV movie,it left me speechless and disturbed for days. Corin Nemek was amazing and very real as Steven,I have seen many of his film and was a Parker Lewis fan when I was little but this was one was his best performance. I think it's very hard to give this film a critic because I don't think this film was made to entertain us ,it was made to educate us on the subject of Child abduction,I don't know about you but as soon as I have kids,the first thing I'll teach them is "NEVER talk to strangers" Parnell is the devil impersonated , how can you take a sweet little boy and strip him of his innocence? I hope he wont get away with it this time(He has been locked up again last year). That scene(The most disturbing scene in the movie if you ask me) were you see Steven at age 9 , smoking a cigarette while watching TV made me very sad because you just knew that it wasn't the same boy,all his childhood was destroyed and he was a child no more.

People need to see this movie,it's an important life lesson.

God bless the late Steven Stayner.
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A Movie That Should Be Aired A LOT
overseer-329 June 2003
This powerful television movie on child sexual abuse, made in 1989, is still timely and incredibly important. Just this week alone the US Supreme Court ruled that hundreds of convicted and confessed child molestors could go free in California (the state where 7 year old Stephen Stayner was kidnapped and sodomized) by a legal decision throwing out legislation allowing prosecution of old sex-abuse cases. This would have affected Stephen's case since he was a teen by the time he escaped Kenneth Parnell, his abductor, and the statute of limitations would have passed for charges of sex abuse to be filed. So much for victims' rights!

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.
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The movie stays with you, so read the book afterwards.
larnie23 May 1999
I first watched this TV movie when I was 9 or 10, and it haunted me for a long time afterwards. Many years later I came across the book, and although this fills in a lot of the gaps that the movie leaves out, the movie does a better job of dramatising the situation without the over emphasis on the goodness of Steven's family, and the evil of his kidnapper that the book gives. It's a shame that all the details could not have been included in the dramatisation, as the full story would have made the story even more tragic, and that bit more realistic. A 5 hour movie would not be that practical though I fear.

The abuse of Steven is left up to the imagination in the TV adaptation, which is tactful to the family of Steven, but does gloss over the point that Steven was severely sexually abused and raped, and that Steven was okay with his friends suffering the same fate when they visited. These little details and many others like them make for a more frightening and even more gripping one than was produced. This is a shame, but understandable for a low budget US TV movie.

Generally, this is well worth a watch, though the book is better factually; but I'd probably give it a miss if you have young children.
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Bad things can happen to good people.
dianastruck-117 September 2006
When I first watched the movie "I know my first name is Steven" I was really affected by it because he was such a young cute little boy and didn't deserve what he had to deal with. What really gets to me is that the police were so stupid that Steven had to save himself. I'm happy that he meet someone that loved him unconditionally and he was blessed with 2 children. He deserved good things to happen to him. He got a G.E.D., stopped drinking and always held a job. The saddest part of the movie is the end, when he was talking to his mom. Its a tear jerker. He may be gone but not forever. Much love 2 his family. If I ever get 2 California I would love to visit his grave and pay my respects to him. I hope his family is doing good.
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dallas-111 July 2001
I remember watching this movie in the fall of 1989, and 11 years later it still strikes me as one of the most emotional movies I have ever seen.

The movie is in 2 parts, and the 1st part is worth watching over and over again. The 2nd part loses its' dramatic flair and seems to drag on for eternity.

I would have to say the most poignant part in the movie is when she goes into the bedroom of her 7 year old son (which is now missing), and smells his pajamas and starts weeping. They then take you to Steven Stayner himself, and all you could hear is cries in the dark as he's telling his abductor to "stop it".

This is a definite tear-jerker.
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Tragic But Honest
rchaney10129 September 2000
Shows the Horrors of what happens to children when Kidnapped and abused. The Cast was excelent. I give it ten stars. I don't think anyone Who hasn't been through something like that can imagine what that poor kid went through. Steven is gone now, But I hope His tragic story is told again and again. And maybe someday America's children will be safe, and no longer be robbed of their innocence.
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scooter-5214 November 1999
I just saw this movie on lifetime and I remember seeing it when it was first on. I was only 9 years old then and I remember being so scared. I thought it was quite ironic that Cary Staynor was "camping in Yosemite" when Steven came home. The same place where earlier this year Cary murdered those women. Yet another chilling twist to the story.
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vwolak24 October 2003
One of those movies that really sticks with you due to the seriousness of the content.

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.

Thank you.
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A movie that gives parents nightmares
Mike-DD17 August 2000
I thought Corin Nemec's portrayal of Steven was very commendable, given that he was only about 17 then. It was a very courageous portrayal of a boy who lived in ignorance and fear at first, then passivity, and finally resignation at his fate. Only when another boy, Timmy, was kidnapped did he finally break out of this existence. This film not only shows the dangers that are out there among strangers, but also among family and friends. It is heartbreaking to see what family and friends can say and do when they find out something 'bad' has happened to you, even when it wasn't your fault, even when you did 'it' out of fear and nothing else.

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.
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A truly harrowing story of a parent's worst nightmare!
bfjrnski15 October 2001
I know my first name is Steven tells the story of a 7-year-old boy named Steven Stayner.Little Steven is kidnapped by child-molester Ken Parnell and is kept with him for 7 years.During these 7 years Steven is renamed Dennis Parnell,attends school,plays sports,and functions as the son(and lover!) of his kidnapper.At age 14 "Dennis" finally escapes his kidnapper.This happens after Ken Parnell kidnaps another little boy-and the trusted "Dennis" helps him to go to the local police station.Detained by the police "Dennis" finally reveals his previous identity! And this is effectively the beginning of the movie!

"I know my first name is Steven" was originally shown in two parts!The first half dealt with Steven's life with his humble parents and 4 siblings.When little Steven is abducted by the sleazy Parnell he doesn't even realize what has occurred.His abductor uses no force or violence!Steven simply BELIEVES what he is told and simply OBEYS the man who is now his adult authority!The filmmakers have tactfully(and thankfully!) managed to spare the viewers any graphic details of Steven's life with his abductor.But still the disturbing question remains: How was this middle-aged man(with a history of child molestation!) able to keep a MISSING child in his home,send him to public schools,pass him off as his son with NOBODY in any position of authority suspicious??And remember in the SAME STATE!!!

The second half is really the beginning of the heart of the movie!Steven is returned to his family! He now has the father,mother,brothers,sisters,rules,curfews,church attendance,etc.And he DOSEN'T LIKE IT!! Fourteen year old Steven has already been sexually active,has smoked and drank since childhood! His new life with his family simply doesn't last! He has no basis for a relationship with them and the bonds of these relationships have long since been destroyed! He leaves his parent's home and moves in with his girlfriend! He and his family come to a peace(of sorts!) but we the viewers know that the damage has been done!!
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Injustice in California
texasturkey17 July 2005
If you all remember, in the movie the jury was told to disregard any of the facts pertaining to the Steven Staynor case against Eugene Parnell. Parenell was being prosecuted for the abduction of Timmy White in this trial. Steven made his statement as a witness. Since Parnell didn't have Timmy as long as he had Steven, his sentence was a lot lighter. He was never prosecuted for the abduction of Steven Staynor, because the statue of limitations ran out. If I recall, I don't think Timmy White was sexually assaulted by Parnell. Steven got him out in time and he was returned to his parents. He received a reward from them and the city of Ukiah. Parents sometimes make the mistake of not telling their children they love them enough or not at all. When Steven was manipulated by Parnell, he believed what he said. In time, he forgot his own phone number. The adults in his life looked the other way when he tried to get help. This movie has an important message of resilience and responsibility to children. We have come along way with the Missing and Exploited Children's Foundation, Missing persons advertisements, Amber Alerts, Meagan's Law. etc., Steven was kidnapped more than 30 years ago. The attitudes toward this sensitive issue has shifted dramatically. It is too bad we had to lose so many along the way.
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Truly mindboggling
EverettsinUtah26 June 2002
I have seen this movie several times. I still can't believe how sick the kidnapper was and how demented the justice system was too in not putting that bastard away. He should have been sentenced to life without parole. Actually, if it were up to me, that sicko DOES NOT deserve to live. I parent's worst nightmare. Yeah, Steven came home alive after seven years, but he wasn't the sweet, innocent, sheltered little boy that he should have been. As parents, especially in today's world, kids shouldn't walk home alone or better yet they should be(I know when my little boy is in school, he'll be dropped off and picked up)taken to school and activities and picked up. It's a day to day struggle and sadly, the most extreme measures must be taken to avoid having one of those parent's worst nightmares. The old school saying "never talk to strangers" applies more and more to our beloved children. If we love them, buckle them up. If we love them, we must know where they are at all times. This movie is unfortunately a true story, but it's very educational for children and parents alike. And one more thing, someone who knows a kid and sees him/her talking to a stranger or god forbid, gets into a stranger's car whether it's forced or not, you've got to DO SOMETHING. Don't hesitate. I can't believe noone who knew Steven Staynor, saw him get into that "stranger's" car.
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Deep, Important, Timely
amedusa50x1 March 2006
There's no reason to give this made-for-TV movie any less than 10 stars for its waaaaay above-average intensity, intelligence, and honesty on the subject of the sexual (and emotional) abuse of children. The acting is uniformly superb, with the film benefiting also from taut direction, a subtly remarkable script, and solid production values. "I Know My First Name is Steven" stays about 85% true to the actual events of Steven Stayner's life and, even more important, stays 100% true to its mission: To show how sexual predators can mentally and physically bludgeon their victims, especially when those victims are children, into a type of submissive paralysis that might defy logic but does not at all defy our understanding if we open our hearts and minds to the truth. The fact that this important film, timely enough when it was made in 1989, is even more timely today in 2006 is a sad fact we all need to face. I applaud the Lifetime Channel for continuing to air the film at fairly regular intervals, though I remain mystified as to why it has yet to be released on DVD.
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What a tragic story
crystalship114 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie made me so angry but the story needed to be told. The parents of Steven Stayner were unstable in my opinion, as well as in the opinions of several notable psychiatrists & not emotionally fit nor financially able to parent 5 children. I do believe they did love the children though. What is so upsetting is that after Steven had made a lifefor himself, had a good wife & 2 young children he was then killed on his motorcycle by another driver's stupidity. I totally believe, as does Steven & Cary's father, that Steven's tortured life & untimely senseless death was a major factor in what pushed his older brother Cary over the brink to become a serial murderer who is now on death row in a CA prison. What an absolute shame this all had to happen to Steven, Timmy & all the others & the creep, Kenneth Parnell, who abducted & abused them got little prison time until 2002 when he was finally sentenced to 25 years to life for trying to buy another young boy. To this day not nearly enough is done to protect our children & that is just inexcusable.
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Corin Nemec is brillient!
willmeinhardt23 May 2000
Corin Nemec is truly magnificent as Steven. He makes the movie come alive and makes you want to watch the truly brilliant film. I think Corin is an unbelievable actor! I just wish he had better scripts to work with... excluding "I know my first name is Steven".
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Great movie, but misleading.
budbundy27 February 2002
This movie leads you to believe Parnell was sentenced for kidnapping and sexual assault, but he wasn't. He was sentenced only for kidnapping. That's why the sentence was so low. According to Steven Parnell molested the boy over 700 times, including almost 100 rapes. He molested other boys as well. The police had proof of this. Steven was ready to testify. Despite all this, Parnell NEVER EVEN GOT PROSECUTED for these crimes. He was released on parole after ONLY 4 YEARS and then after 2 years probation he was free. To do what he wants and see who he wants, including young boys. He even worked with kids until they found out who he was, thanks to this mini-series I believe.

Read the book if you can find it.

Steven Stayner unfortunately died in a motorcycle accident some years later.
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A movie every parent should see
yogibear58220 January 2002
I remembering watching this movie for the first time and have never forgotten it. It stays with you. My sister dated a guy who grew up in Merced and he was there at that time that all of this took place. He remembers Steven and the entire Stayner family very well.

It is a great movie with a very sad and disappointing ending. Parnell deserved so much more than what he got and to later learn of Steven's fate just tears me up inside.
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Movie makes you so depressed you want to cry
Fenwitch27 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I hate the lifetime movie network. I have TiVo, and now that there is nothing new on TV I had it tape a bunch of TV bi-ops, because usually they are a hoot. (Listen I am a girl that can see the classic resonance of Barberella, we can't all be perfect.) ANYWAY, there was this movie called "I Know My First Name is Steven..."

It knocks the breathe from you with the sheer hopelessness of it. About halfway through I pause it because I say to myself who is that guy, (Steven Dorff,) or that other guy (the guy from Parker Lewis Can't Lose,) but just to confirm I go to IMDb. Well under notes and trivia about this move it is like

"oh, by the way, this kid who goes through hell for seven years, kidnapped, raped(several thousand times over the course of seven years sample dialogue ' No your not my first woman, I had my first woman when I was nine' Yeah cause your rapist kidnapper brought home a dolly and they raped you together!',) and brainwashed into thinking he is worthless... this kid crashes his motorcycle at the age of 24 and dies, leaving a wife and two kids." PUNCH.

If that isn't bad enough, note two. The kind caring older brother, Cary, kills and mutilates the bodies of four women in Yosemite national park in 1999. PUNCH.

So the rest of the movie I'm bummed. The rapist gets off with just two years, the good guy dies, that sympathetic older brother (psychopath!)

I feel so stupid, and helpless. Like how the +uck do I make this feeling stop. This kid, this poor kid. A F+_ing hero, doesn't run away till a new kid is taken and even than doesn't go in with the kid, is caught when the kid runs out of the police station back to him. Stupid Lifetime movie network, stupid me, stupid @u#king world,

To make a long story short (too late!) The movie is great, but you feel awful after watching it
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This was a really good Drama and Family movie! I love the ending!
Figger45922 March 2002
I don't have much to say but "I know my first name is Steven" was a great movie! Even though some scenes were kind of sick or sad it was a really good family movie considering the ending is really happy! But the best part was...Luke Edwards is ADORABLE!! If you're looking for a good drama-here it is. Could you believe this is a true story?
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One of the most sad and heart wrenching stories - A tragic story, with amazing heroism and a lasting legacy
simon-bygrave13 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I first watched this Film in July 1990, when it was screened as a two part film on the BBC in England. I was truly stopped in my tracks at the sheer horror of what poor Steven had to go through. It reduced me to floods of tears - and still does when I think about it.

The physical abuse was truly abhorrent and sickening. The way he was duped into going with this man, the way he was manipulated and lied to, the cruel mental torture - was something that really affected me and made me feel so,so,so sad and sorry for Steven and his family.

The whole story is heart wrenching but a few of the scene's really pull at the heart and make you sob. In particular, when Steven's mum picks up his tiny PJ's and smells them and finds and reads Steven's letter to Santa. Also when Steven's dad cries on his bed and when he can't bring himself to paint over Steven's name on the garage(Steven had draw this on the morning he was taken). There are lots of other really emotional scene's, but the one that really touches me, it makes me happy and then so sad at the same time, is the end scene - when Steven says "I'm sorry" to his mum (as they make their peace)- it is so emotional.

What a brave person Steven was. I am in tears thinking of him as I write this review and tribute to Steven.

During the years, as I have grown up, I have often though of Steven and this life story. It always made me well up inside and normally cry - but it also inspired me - if I was feeling sorry for myself - I would use Steven's example to summons extra courage.

Now I am a father, with young Children - "I came across" the story again and watched the film on you-tube - the story still captivated me -but more importantly,I have sought to research Steven's real life in more detail. The lasting legacy of the work Steven did for missing children after his escape and now the statue of him(and Timmy White)in Merced, CA are a fitting memorial to him and his parents, wife and children.

I don't believe what his brother did in 1999 (which was truly terrible)should in anyway alter the way people remember Steven.

In a tragic way Steven dying, the way he did and so young only serves to cement his legacy. May God truly Bless Steven's wife, Mother and Children. I will always remember Steven and his story. I pray that lasting good will continue to be done through Steven Stayner's life and story.
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