In our fast-paced, interconnected world, children are valuable. It seems everyone has produced or is producing a child—sometimes two or three. But what are the ethical ramifications when someone begins taking other people’s children and collecting them in his own home?
Jason Durbin is what’s known as a “child aggregator.” His job, in other words, is to scour local neighborhoods and schools, searching for outstanding boys and girls. When he finds a child he likes, he aggregates him or her, transporting the child to a new home in his suburban bungalow.
Durbin, who has aggregated more than 20 children, argues the service he provides is valuable.
“Basically, I’m finding the best, most promising kids out there and bringing them together under one roof,” said Durbin, emphasizing how convenient it is to have so many top-notch children all living in the same room. “I think the kids are awesome, by the way. I think it’s just absolutely awesome that these parents were able to raise such great kids. I don’t have time for people who get negative about great kids and call it stealing—it’s not. It’s really just the next level for them.”
Aggregated children—or stolen? You be the judge.
But where is the line between child aggregation and outright child theft? Durbin’s critics—including parents, teachers, family members, and friends of the children—argue that since he collects children without the original parents’ consent, his actions make him no better than a common thief.
“I see what he’s going for, but we need to call a spade a spade here: This is theft,” said Monica Harris, 43, whose 8-year-old daughter, Tamara, was taken by Durbin several months ago. “I’m proud of the child I created. I gave birth to her and raised her, and spent years of my life doing it. So, when this guy comes along, drives her away in a van, and calls it aggregation, you can imagine how annoying that is—it doesn’t seem fair.”
For now, the issue of child aggregation remains morally fraught and legally ambiguous, and raises several interesting questions. Is it okay to aggregate a child if the parents are informed about it over the phone beforehand? What about excerpting parts of a child and displaying them without saying where they’re from? If child aggregation is the new norm, how much credit do we owe to the parents who raised them?
These are all thoughts we must grapple with in due time. For now, though, we can probably enjoy Durbin’s fantastic collection of aggregated children for what it is.