Anorak News | Madeleine McCann, Shannon Matthews And Missing Child Protocol

Madeleine McCann, Shannon Matthews And Missing Child Protocol

by | 27th, February 2008

matthews-shannon.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann.

Shannon Matthews is missing. Is the media treating her case the same way as it views Madeleine McCann? And, in light of missing Madeleine,  is there now a protocol for what occurs when a child goes missing?


Sue Carroll: Most of us won’t have an instant recollection who Shannon Matthews is. After thinking twice, of course we all know she is the nine-year-old missing from her home in Dewsbury Moor, West Yorkshire.

But what a terrible indictment of the media that, when a child has disappeared in Britain for over a week, her name doesn’t spring to our lips, we don’t know her school, favourite toy or what she was wearing when last seen.

Shannon is as precious to her family as Madeleine McCann, missing for 300 days, is to hers. But where are the front-page pictures, campaigns, the furore? Would this be different if she was the daughter of two middle-class, mediasavvy parents? Not a working-class child from up North.

THE SUN: “Marchers wants Shannon home”

THE family of Shannon Matthews led a poignant candlelit vigil for the missing nine-year-old last night – as police admitted hopes of finding her alive looked “bleak”.

Anguished mum Karen and stepdad Craig joined 300 neighbours on a march through streets near their home.

Children carried a banner showing the youngster’s face and a hotline to ring with information.

A hotline. Like Madeleine. A vigil. There is picture of Shannon on her birthday.

Balloons bearing pleas for Shannon’s safe return were released during last night’s vigil.

THIS IS LONDON: “Police search house of missing Shannon’s uncle as detectives treat case ‘as seriously as a murder'”

A dozen police officers conducted a fingertip search of the house belonging to the uncle of missing nine-year-old Shannon Matthews today.

Officers from West Yorkshire Police filed into the property in Moorside Road, Dewsbury Moor which adjoins the home of the schoolgirl who disappeared last week.

The house belongs to Neil Hyett, Shannon Matthews’ uncle, and his wife, Amanda.

Detective Superintendent Brennan, who is heading up the search, says:

“I’m convinced that if Shannon had run away that night of her own volition, in a den or hideaway of some sort, we would have found her by now – over a week on from when the investigation opened.

“It is very rare in searches of this kind that a girl of Shannon’s age should be missing for this long without any clues pointing to her whereabouts.

“It is extremely concerning and we are now looking at this on a scale as serious as a murder investigation.

“It can now be said that the tone of our enquiry has changed to a bleaker outlook.

“The shift in emphasis is that we are now looking for individuals who may have been seen on the day of her disappearance, acting suspiciously, or unknown to the local community.

“We are also appealing for anyone who may have friends or family that may have been behaving strangely since Shannon went missing, to come forward.

“At this stage, any shred of information, however insignificant it seems, may help.

“We have a grave concern that she may have fallen into the wrong hands but no arrests have been made at this point, and I must stress at this point that we are not ruling out any possibilities as to what might have happened to her.”

DAILY MAIL: “Now police say missing Shannon, 9, could have been abducted”

A week after Shannon Matthews was last seen walking away from school in Dewsbury Moor, West Yorkshire, it also emerged that another girl called Shannon escaped an abduction attempt 10 miles away earlier the same day.

Shannon Selby, 12, was walking to school alone in Wakefield when a man pulled up and ordered her to “get in this car now”.

She ran away as the man parked and made to chase her on foot.

She reached home safely and her mother rang the police.

An efit of the attacker was released yesterday.

Allison Pearson: “Poor Shannon was already a lost child”

When Madeleine McCann went missing, her parents soon came under attack for leaving their daughter alone in a holiday apartment just a couple of hundred yards from where they were having dinner.

At the time, critics claimed that if the middle-class McCanns had lived on a council estate, they would have been in trouble with the police for neglect. So where is the outcry over the disappearance of Shannon Matthews?

Only nine years old, Shannon was reported missing by her mum, Karen, at 7pm last Tuesday when she had still not walked the mile home.  She was last seen leaving school at 3.10pm.

Four hours is an eternity for a little girl to be out on a dark winter’s evening. And Shannon was afraid of the dark. Why did no one walk with her or care where she was?

Karen, who has seven children by five fathers, admitted that she had found a note scrawled on her daughter’s bedroom wall saying that she wanted to go and live with her biological dad in Huddersfield.

Shannon’s friends say she told them she didn’t want to go home. But Karen insists Shannon was fine and enjoys a good relationship with her current boyfriend, 22-yearold Craig.

“Only on Monday, they were having tickling fights and telly cuddles. She views him as her dad.” Oh really? In that case, why was Shannon so desperate to be reunited with her real father? No one can doubt Karen’s anguish.

The poor woman can hardly speak, except to sob to the cameras: “Shannon, come home, please come home.” But allowing a passing parade of boyfriends to play tickling games with your vulnerable small girl is, at best, naïve

DAILY TELEGRAPH: “Shannon ‘may be in the wrong hands'”

Reports that an alleged abduction attempt of another girl on the same day that Shannon disappeared a week ago were being looked into by police.

According to reports, a man in a gold Ford Mondeo tried to coax a 12-year-old into his car at about 9am in Wakefield, about six miles away.

The girl ran away from him.

THE TIMES: “Abducted, abused… survived”

Lisa Hoodless and Charlene Lunnon were abducted and raped nine years ago, aged 10. They found strength in each other to survive the four-day ordeal and, remarkably, to rebuild their lives

Alan Hopkinson was found by police with the girls huddled together in his front room. He pleaded guilty to the crime and was given nine life sentences.

And that, for the public at least, is where stories like this usually end. Children don’t often survive adbuction by men such as Hopkinson, a truth that weighs heavily on the mind as we await news of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews, missing now for more than a week. If they do survive, we rarely hear from them again.


They say that in some ways what happened has had a positive effect on their lives. Both seem vaguely surprised that anyone would want to interview them about it because it is “not that amazing” but, in a climate in which missing girls such as Madeleine McCann dominate the news, they want to urge people never to give up searching because “children can come back”.

Madeleine McCann

Posted: 27th, February 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids Comments (1,154) | TrackBack | Permalink