Abduction, slavery and criminal behaviour

24th May 2013 at 01:00


Deprived of their freedom.

Slavery is documented in Babylonian legal records from the 18th century BC. But the earliest civilisation from which we have been able to learn a great deal about the role of slaves is that of ancient Greece in the 7th century BC. The city states of Sparta and Athens, for example, both depended on forced labour.

The helots of Sparta were a conquered people: they were allowed to work the land but not to own it. But perhaps the most unfortunate slaves were the Athenian miners, who worked in extremely dangerous conditions. On the other hand, the Scythian archers, who served as Athens' police force, acquired certain privileges. And, unlike helots, Athenian slaves could be freed, becoming metics (resident aliens).

Slavery was also integral to ancient Roman society, and the number of Roman slaves - many of whom were captured during war - grew rapidly from the 2nd century BC. They often endured great brutality, being whipped in mines, labouring in chain gangs in the fields or fighting as gladiators in public arenas. However, freed slaves could become Roman citizens.

In modern times, people continue to be deprived of their liberty. Illegal immigrants have been enslaved as domestic servants; agricultural workers have been kept in appalling conditions by gangmasters who have robbed them of their human rights.


Behind the crimes

Ariel Castro (pictured), a 52-year-old former school bus driver, has been charged with kidnapping and raping three women in Ohio, US (see main story, left). According to reports, a suicide note was recovered from Castro's house - apparently written several years earlier - in which he blamed his victims for getting into his car, said he was a sex addict and referred to childhood family problems.

Encourage 17- to 18-year-old students to build a profile of Castro, perhaps exploring parallels with those who have committed similar crimes, such as Austrian Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter in a cellar for 24 years. Such terrible acts challenge basic societal values. Get students to question the assumption of trust.

Divide your class into three groups and split the research into sociological, psychological and biological factors. What makes a person commit horrific crimes? This can lead into a debate on nature versus nurture, which is fertile territory for the classroom. Students could go on to consider what forms of punishment best discourage such crimes.


The cost of captivity

Hope, they say, is the last thing to die. Like the kidnapped women in Ohio, Terry Waite was chained to a wall in a room with no natural light. He was abducted in January 1987 by Islamic Jihad, associates of the extremist group Hezbollah, on a trip to Lebanon for the Church of England to negotiate the freedom of hostages. He was held captive for 1,763 days, including four years in solitary confinement.

Living in darkness and half-light, Waite's senses became more acute. Towards the end of his captivity he developed a severe lung infection, which his captors treated only with paracetamol. He was released in November 1991. Mentally, it took him years to recover.

Natascha Kampusch, an Austrian woman abducted at the age of 10 in March 1998, was kept in a cellar for eight years. She emerged severely malnourished.

Ask your students to identify the illnesses most likely to affect people who are imprisoned without light, proper food or clean water. How prevalent were these illnesses throughout history and how common are they now?

You could expand the lesson to include a study of physical and mental torture, and the long-term effects and psychological scars that are left by deprivation.


- Debate the causes of crime and suitable punishments in dana2010's lesson. bit.lyCrimeAndPunishmentIntro

- Consider evil and the suffering caused by humans with this PowerPoint. bit.lyEvilAndSuffering

- Discuss the long-term effects of malnutrition with a PowerPoint from TESConnect partner foodafact oflife. bit.lyMalnutritionEffects

- Discuss how violence against women can be tackled in an assembly shared by TESConnect partner TrueTube.bit.lyViolenceWomenAssembly


- Discuss what makes an event newsworthy in a lesson shared by TESConnect partner NGfLCymru. bit.lyNewsworthyStories

- Help students to write their own television news broadcast with fruitywibble's PowerPoint. bit.lyTVreporting

- EmmyCD's lesson considers how news stories are reported and why some are given more prominence than others. bit.lyNewsValues.

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