Like millions of other people around the world, I am praying and hoping that they find four year old Briton Madeleine McCann, who was apparently abducted from a hotel room at a resort in Portugal on May 2. Or if it turns out she is dead already, we may hope that at least the perpetrators are brought to justice.
However, there are some hard questions that need to be asked.
For one, it is hard to criticize grieving, concerned parents, but it is a fact that while Madeleine was abducted, she was watching her brother and sister. Both aged two. Her parents had sauntered off for a leisurely lunch, leaving a four year old in charge of two two year olds (and in a foreign country, at that). To be honest, if they get her back I hope the next thing that happens is that Madeleine and her siblings are immediately taken into protective custody by the state. I mean, even forget about the possibility of such an abduction. There are plenty of kids that age who die just in accidents, drowning in the bathtub or pulling an appliance down on top of them while trying to climb on it. Or they could figure out a way to unlatch the door and wander out onto a busy street. Or they could guzzle down a bottle of liquid Drano. I could go on with a lot more, but you get the idea. This is parental negligence of the first magnitude, and I guarantee you that had Madeleine been found safely within a short time, today none of the kids would be living with the parents.
For another, I have to (once again) point a finger at the media. Are there likely to be any people in the United States who will know information that may help the police in Portugal, that justifies this kind of blanket coverage? It is sensationalist media at its zenith. And Madeleine is exactly who they like to cover-- a young, pretty blonde girl. If you got all your information from the news media, you'd think that only pretty blonde girls ever disappeared. But that simply is not the case.
To begin with, a 2002 study of missing kids sponsored by the Justice Department found that 54% of missing children are white. That means that 46% are not. But the missing children shown on television are almost all white. Is it more important to find a white kid than a black or Hispanic kid? Apparently so, according to a lot of news stations because they invariably show you the picture of the white kid.
Also, it turns out that 53% of missing children are male. But missing boys aren't usually as pretty so they tend to focus almost exclusively on missing girls. That is one reason wny child sex predator Michael Devlin was able to live with a kidnapped boy right in the middle of an apartment complex in Missouri for four years, and only got caught when he was seen abducting another boy.
I have no problem with coverage of missing children in general. But what I'd like to see is a local focus on missing kids that someone around here actually might know something about.