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Media Bias: Only White Kids Get Abducted

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Thousands of kids go missing each day -- so why do we never seem to hear about the African-American children?


What do JonBenet Ramsey, Madeleine McCann, Elizabeth Smart and Polly Klaas all have in common?  They are all girls who have been abducted -- or in the most tragic cases, killed -- and they are all attractive white girls. Strikingly, the other similarity is all of their stories got massive play in the media during darkest days of their disappearance.

The media has always seemed to only be interested in covering stories of white children who go missing -- and pretty ones at that. Currently, Caylee Anthony fits that profile: doe-eyed with a winning smile. Despite ourselves when we first heard her story many of us thought, "Oh it's so sad, she's such a pretty little girl."

But pretty and white are not the only children in peril, and are not the only ones who should have our attention. Nearly 800,000 children under the age of 18 are reported missing each year in the United States, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Of those reported missing, 33% are African-American. So where's the 24/7 coverage of their stories?

Websites like Missing And Exploited Children and The Child Connection have much more racially integrated roster of missing children reflecting the true statistics. Unfortunately, websites do not have the immense reach of CNN and Fox news.

"Of the hundreds of thousand children that go missing each year, probably four or five  get significant national media attention," Ernie Allen, President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tells momlogic. "It's just another missing kid to the them unless the cases are dramatic and sensational."   

And there's another startling factor: "In many, many cities going back 50, 75 years or more, journalists would refer to 'good murders' and 'bad murders,'" explains, Roy Peter Clark, Vice president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"Good murders" -- murders that make good press -- are usually white girls from middle class families. "The example of a bad murder would be the murder of an African-American person from a poor neighborhood," says Clark.

One website is doing its part to at least try to fix the disparity. Black and Missing But Not Forgotten is dedicated to spreading awareness of missing African-American children.  One  post on the site "Caylee Anthony is Not the Only Missing Florida Toddler, " tells the story of little Zenyetta Ra,  who is also missing from the Tampa area, about 84 miles from the last known sighting of Caylee. "Zenyetta Ra is also missing", says the site, "However, you won't see Nancy Grace talking about her. Not even the local news."

The website further exemplifies the bias by this statistic. A Google search on Caylee will garner about 600,000 results. "Can't say the same for Zenyetta," laments the website.

next: Mom Who Joined Cheerleading Squad Pleads Insanity
112 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jami October 21, 2008, 3:48 PM

The ones that seem to get the most media attention are the strange ones. Can you imagine not reporting your child missing for a month and not even sure when they went missing. Or your daughter found dead in your home. Or the ones that the parents are thought to be involved.
This is not very helpful. The media should put up pictures of other missing children even when they are covering a specific case. This way more pictures will be getting more media coverage. I wish that they would start putting missing children on milk cartons and other everyday items that we all purchase. Those pictures need to get out nationwide so there is a bigger chance to find these children.
I am not even going to comment on race. My heart goes out to all missing children and we need to do more to find them and prevent others from being added to the list of victims.

m davis October 22, 2008, 12:28 AM

here we go again, its pathetic and neggative like a snowball gaining in size as it rolls dn hill. did you really research this before agreeing, it started on a site that once intriqued me insted turned out to be a rant without a cause. the squeeky wheel gets the grease and ask the parents of the missing kids and they will tell you, its up to you to get the publics attention and get into law enfforcements faces and not let off. you don`t sit and whine cause of your color or lack of income or whatever. its taks alot of hard work at a time in a parents life where you wouldn`t be anywhere else but trying to find your child. when i have voluteered for searches i have never asked the race before i decided to go, but on the other hand i saw a lot of able bodies sittin around doing nothing in the very neighborhood they live while on this sight i see pictures of pretty little girls, all white and your ranting about equal treatment. why not obtain the info of any children and feature their story and the families plea for the help they need to conduct searches or flyers out, plenty to do and you might have some of the kids in your own neighborhood. so get proactive and cut the poor little me crap. lots to do for those that can`t physically get out and search. my prayers to all missing persons and families. so get involved, lots of nice people in this world too and if you get stuck in that club nobody wants to belong to, you will apprciate the kindness and love that still exist. thank you, ifindmyselffindingu

lisa  October 22, 2008, 10:28 AM

John Benet wasn’t obducted. She was found in her own home. I agree with above it’s not a white black thing. Polly Klass had Winona Ryder getting the word out. It also depends on the resources and work of the family.

Lola October 22, 2008, 12:57 PM

I find it funny how some of you commenters are saying the author needs to “fix that chip on her shoulder because it’s not always about race..”

So…WHAT RACE are you assuming this author is…because I’m pretty sure you’ll guess wrong either way.

Don't Assume that Family need to do more October 22, 2008, 7:39 PM

Because there are several families that work their butts off but they STILL do not get the 24/7 coverage that Caylee Anthony do. So it’s not really about what the family are doing. Take Romona Moore. Research her story, and tell me that the mother did not do enough.

It’s not always about race, but race CAN BE a factor. You can’t sit here and deny that there’s no such thing as media bias and discrimination when you live in a country that still have racism. Ask the professional journalists, shoot, ask the president of NCMEC, they will tell you that media bias DO exist and they will more than likely agree with this article.

The author is doing the right thing by putting out this article, too often when ignore race when it’s often an issue. If it wasn’t, there would be no need for articles like these.

Before I go, I can name two more missing children (presumed dead) like Caylee: Aarone Thompson and Rilya Wilson. Do a google search on either one of them and it’s not nearly as much as Caylee’s. And guess what? Both of these young girls were not reported missing by their caregivers for more than a YEAR.

Not to dismiss Caylee’s case, but if you did your research, Caylee’s situation is not exactly unique and it’s definitely not the most shocking (which is the main reason people give for the media attention) Which brings up the question: Why did she get the 24/7 coverage and not Rilya and Aarone?

theysunkit October 23, 2008, 8:37 AM

your honest opinions at this site are usless and if the admin of this site does like what you say, they wipe you out. too bad because what i said had more truth from real facts and hands on participation. whinning gets neggative feedback, no matter what the cause. you gotta site here, give these kids the recognition and story out. when the circumstances are so bizzare and the statistics are higher with one or the other in a geographical it just works that way. good luck to this site

Anonymous October 23, 2008, 3:52 PM

Yet you guys used the picture of a bi-racial child, not a full african-american child… go figure!

Nicole October 24, 2008, 4:14 PM

I’m not sure how fair it is to say that bias is shown to white middle class girls because that’s not always the case. Personally, I can’t tell you anything about Polly or Elizabeth without a google search. But this article fails to mention one other extremely important issue that Caylee, Maddie and Jon Benet all have in common. In all three cases, the parents were suspected of murdering them. That right there gives them more national attention because most of us simply can’t imagine what kind of person would murder their own child.

Go back further in time - what about the national attention over the case of Susan Smith? I admit the kids were white, but they were boys and they also got alot of attention.

Any missing child is tragic, but when it’s suspected that the child was killed by the one person they should be able to trust the most in the world - it grabs everyone’s attention. That doesn’t mean that the other missing kids don’t deserve our attention.

me in Colorado October 29, 2008, 9:45 PM

Your numbers are wrong. You need to break down that 800,000 into a realistic accounting. Many of these are teenage runaways, and most are parents taking children in custody disputes. About 100 children are abducted in the US per year in what is determined the most dangerous abductions - abduction by a stranger. Although 100 is 100 too many and something has to be done about this, it is a far cry from 800,000. Lets not spread anymore Fear than is already out there.

BKadrmas December 19, 2008, 7:47 AM

It’s hard to beleive the black people are putting the race thing on missing children. I hear about the black children missing, I am from a state where there are few black people but if one was missing we would hear about it just as we hear about the indian children. Let’s leave color out of this terrible problem. Children are children.

TVC December 19, 2008, 8:50 AM

Check the dumpster or for any shallow holes in the backyard, that’s where the parents of these children are dumping them.

robert flockhart December 19, 2008, 8:51 AM

You talk about bias, they take about “white kids” but black kids are african-american. White kids have heritages to.

LilDani December 19, 2008, 8:56 AM

I think this story is a little ridiculous “Nearly 800,000 children under the age of 18 are reported missing each year in the United States, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Of those reported missing, 33% are African-American.” Using common sense the fact that there is a bigger percentage of white children being abducted would be one reason you would see more white children on the news. Also most abductions are by family members, the high profile cases you’ve used as examples are high profile because of the circumstances surrounding the disappearances not the color of their skin or their looks.

Raceagain December 19, 2008, 9:26 AM

OK Caylees Grandpa went on tv to say she was missing, He was the first one but after that it was Cindy, I feel the louder you are as a person of a missing child the more people will listen and yes if it is more news worth then it will be all you hear. But you have to also take into effect how the public takes it too. On Caylees you had the public outcry Because of Cassey it is a very heartbreaking story.
There is so many kids and young adults missing and be it black -white-red-yellow-brown it is a story and it should be told but it needs to have voices behind it to make it national, I go on the missing sites and see every color and when I see kids I look at them to see if its them….To me Color has nothing to do with me. If my child is missing you can bet I would make it national and scream at the top of my lungs to get everyone to listen…Thank you ..May all Children be found and the sick person that took them be shot!

cutie pue December 19, 2008, 9:56 AM


Chuck December 19, 2008, 10:29 AM

This is not the case here in Florida. Stop at any rest area here and you will see a bunch of missing children. Some are abducted by realitives/parents from a spouse. I also receive alerts of missing children from our sheriff’s office alerting me of missing children.
The author should have done some more reasearch before generalizing about a subject.
All children are important.

Richard December 19, 2008, 10:51 AM

Here’s an idea. Let’s put each and every “murder of an African-American person from a poor neighborhood,” on the Front Page of the L.A. Times. We’d have an 80 Pound paper each day to wrap coffee grounds and fish bones in.

Michele December 19, 2008, 12:29 PM

Thats a false statement that only “white” kids get abducted. I worked with a Black Nurse whose 2 grandkids disapeared, and the case has never been solved. There are alot of other races of kids that have gone missing, also. From Michele in Houston, Texas

Michele December 19, 2008, 12:32 PM

I’ve known of alot of cases where kids of different races other than “white” have gone missing. Who made that uninformed statement, anyway?

Bob December 19, 2008, 1:10 PM

Does it ever stop? Does one color always have to be an issue? Whether black, white, green or purple the horror and pain it causes all people should be the benchmark for judgement.

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