Ignorant editorial

I just found this editorial on the problem of missing children. The author’s sentiments are noble, but he clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about. To quote: There are 800,000 missing children each year under the age of 18…I have been asked by the editors at BNN to cover the Haleigh Cummings case and I obliged. I would like to see coverage for all the missing children not only in America but around the world…A great number of these children are never found.

The 800,000 figure gets thrown around a lot. I’m not sure it’s accurate; I’ve also read that 800,000 people are reported missing each year, which includes adults as well as children. But in any case, this figure is misleading. The 800,000 includes cases where the person was found, even very shortly after the disappearance was reported. Like if a toddler wanders out of his yard and down the block, or if a teenage girl is a few hours late getting home, or if an adult decides to take off for the weekend without telling anyone. All of them get added to the tally, even when they turn up safe almost immediately. The 800,000 tally also includes runaways, not just abducted kids. In any case, about 99% or more of those 800,000 people who are reported missing turn up shortly.

That’s not to say the problem of missing people isn’t real—I certainly know that as well as anyone. Just as real is the sad lack of media coverage for most missing people. But this blogger isn’t helping when he inflates the numbers.

15 thoughts on “Ignorant editorial

  1. Aimee March 5, 2009 / 6:07 pm

    Two words: Sensationalism Sells. If an even slightly less than totally responsible “journalist” (however we or he defines it) has a choice between a big scary number that grabs the reader’s attention, and a less-alarming, more accurate passage that the reader will be likely to skim over… no contest, if he doesn’t think he’ll be called on it.

  2. Anthony March 5, 2009 / 6:46 pm

    “Accuracy in media” is oxymoronic, as Aimee points out. Hyperbole such as is referenced in the editorial is doubly damnable as it has the tendency to leech away at the reader’s concern-level, i.e., “The figure 800,000 is unfathomable! Therefore, I can do nothing about it and I shall just not think of the problem ever again.”

  3. forthelost March 5, 2009 / 8:40 pm

    The flip side, of course, is saying most missing kids are runaways and family abductions. This is true of course, but when they say it it’s almost always used to imply that we shouldn’t waste energy looking for *them*.

  4. Wow March 9, 2009 / 1:51 am

    What does it matter if the author of that article is on or off with there numbers and who are you to call anyone ignorant just because of a flub on numbers missing kids are missing kids…I think the ignorance is staring you in the face each and every time you look in the mirror….your ignorance speaks even louder when you pick on people that are just doing something they are obviously asked to do. People make mistakes and getting the number of missing children in America each day wrong im sure isnt the most ignorant thing to of ever happened. I think that this blog here has fit perfectly in that spot.

    http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=2816

    If you go to this site it states it all clearly here~

  5. Wow March 9, 2009 / 1:51 am

    How many missing children are there?

    The problem of missing children is complex and multifaceted. Children may become missing due to abduction by nonfamily members or abduction by family members. Children may be missing as a result of running away from home. Children may also be missing involuntarily for reasons other than abduction, due to becoming lost, injured or otherwise missing to their parents or guardians. The best national estimates for the number of missing children are found in the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2), released in October 2002. According to NISMART-2, an estimated

    * 800,000 children younger than 18 are missing each year, or an average of 2,000 children reported missing each day.
    * 200,000 children were were abducted by family members.
    * 58,000 children were abducted by nonfamily members, and
    * 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. These crimes involve someone the child does not know, or knows only slightly, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.

    • Meaghan March 9, 2009 / 11:14 am

      You just missed the point entirely. My blog entry was not about whether 800,000 children are reported missing every year, but about whether the 800,000 number is useful at all. Because most of those 800,000 children are found very quickly, within a few days at most, and hardly any are still missing a year from now. In fact, I’m quite sure that in that 800,000 figure are many kids who were reported missing more than once, chronic runaways and so on. People through the 800,000 number around and act like 800,000 kids go missing and STAY missing every year. That is simply not true. If it were, our schools and day care centers and Boy Scout troops and so on would be empty.

  6. Wow March 9, 2009 / 2:36 pm

    Well like I said the person who wrote that article got those numbers from the missing/exploited children sites and for you to ridicule them for a mistake on numbers is much more ignorant then what you are accusing them of

  7. Wow March 9, 2009 / 2:52 pm

    But this blogger isn’t helping when he inflates the numbers.

    Thats the ignorance right there…how do you know that blogger ment to use those inflated numbers? For you to call a person out like that and accuse them of NOT helping when they inflate the numbers that there is pure ignorance.

  8. Wow March 9, 2009 / 2:54 pm

    What I ment to say is not how do you know that blogger ment to use those numbers but how can you say that like that person used those numbers purposely to mislead people.

    • Meaghan March 9, 2009 / 6:48 pm

      Blindly quoting a number without putting any context on it IS ignorant and can also be used for propaganda. Another good example is pro-life people saying “Don’t have an abortion, you risk dying.” It’s technically true; an abortion is a surgical procedure and there’s at least a slight risk of death in any surgery. But to put that risk in context, you’re much more likely to die in childbirth. This blogger is doing the same thing by bring up the 800,000 number without explaining it’s simply the number of missing child reports each year, and not the number of children who have been kidnapped, or children who are even missing.

      If you hate this blog so much why read it?

  9. Anthony March 9, 2009 / 3:01 pm

    MEANT. M-e-a-n-t. MEANT.

  10. Wow March 9, 2009 / 3:06 pm

    Now its a grammer lesson in here…first you all are calling people ignorant for no reason and now you are correcting peoples grammer…wow great group of people here!

  11. forthelost March 9, 2009 / 7:15 pm

    And it’s spelled “grammar,” by the way.

  12. Anthony March 9, 2009 / 8:18 pm

    LOL, and thanks, forthelost. I was going to point that out as both being misspelled AND incorrect—as I’d indicated a spelling error to the poster (Wow) above, not a grammar one, but I eventually decided to pretend it all didn’t happen and go on about my business.

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