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Jaycee Dugard: How The Media Spreads The Fear

Jaycee DugardJAYCEE Lee Dugard – Anorak’s look at Jaycee Dugard in the news: It’s every parent’s worst nightmare as Phillip Garrido rapes a 14-year-0ld, allegedly.

Before we go on with today’s round-up of Jaycee Dugard news in the media, hats off to the Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak for telling readers:

“Jaycee Lee Dugard’s Story is Every Parent’s Nightmare”

Because, kids and mums and dads, it could be you.

Dvorak writes that Dugard’s abduction in 1991 “changed my tiny California home town of South Lake Tahoe forever…Her reappearance last week at the age of 29 generated headlines across the country — a chilling reminder to me and millions of other parents that it can happen anywhere, to anyone.”

Look out! Paedo! But  – what’s this? – the kidnap and rape of a child by a stranger is not all that common?

It seems that no horror story is complete without a paedophile, the one thign that can make it still worse. Readers may recall the name Kristian Walker, 12, Swedish boy who the media told us had been kidnapped by a paedo after the Asian tsunami.

Kristian’s father said he feared the boy been taken by child traffickers after reports that he was seen leaving hospital with a European man.

It turned out that:

A German man sought in connection with the case has been cleared after police questioning. Police say they confirmed his account that he helped reunite two German boys with their parents, and a Swedish youth with his mother.

But while the good Samaritan did his work, the media did theirs:


The Guardian brought us:

Scotland Yard has set up a child protection unit as part of international efforts to combat the possible trafficking of children in the wake of the Indian Ocean earthquake, it emerged today.

So what are the facts?

Slate’s Christopher Beam: “800,000 Missing Kids? Really?Making sense of child abduction statistics. News reports cited a statistic that 800,000 children disappear every year—or about 2,000 a day. Seriously? How reliable are these numbers?…

Take the number 800,000: It’s true that 797,500 people under 18 were reported missing in a one-year period, according to a 2002 study. But of those cases, 203,900 were family abductions, 58,200 were nonfamily abductions, and only 115 were “stereotypical kidnappings,” defined in one study as “a nonfamily abduction perpetrated by a slight acquaintance or stranger in which a child is detained overnight, transported at least 50 miles, held for ransom or abducted with the intent to keep the child permanently, or killed.” Even these categories can be misleading: Overstaying a visit with a noncustodial parent, for example, could qualify as a family abduction. Some individuals get entered into the database multiple times after disappearing on different occasions, resulting in potentially misleading numbers.

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Posted: 4th, September 2009 | In: Key Posts, Reviews | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0