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Why Missing Black Children Don't Get News Coverage

Missing Black Children

Missing black children represent 33 percent of all missing children cases, but according to a 2010 study, only 19.5 percent are accounted for in television news reports. This is a startling set of statistics, given the fact that African Americans only account for 13 percent of the U.S. population. Why?

Race and Social Status

Disparities have been linked to factors that include race and social status. Missing children from black and poor families are underrepresented in the news media. According to a Washington Post staff writer, race and social status matter. The writer points to the Elizabeth Smart abduction, which received national attention. At the same time, a 7-year old African American girl from a poor family in Milwaukee was also missing, yet the story got little attention by local news media.

Natalie Holloway or Tamika Houston?

Another case is the Natalie Holloway story. At the same time, a young African American girl named Tamika Houston from South Carolina was also missing, yet no one heard about Tamika while Natalie's story was at the top of the news for almost a year.

Sometimes Up to Half of All Missing Kids Are Black

The 2010 study showed that of the 800,000 missing children in the nation in 2002, almost half were boys and racial minorities, yet most of the news coverage was about white missing children, particularly white girls. And less news coverage means decreased opportunities of finding the children.

Study Shows Bias

The study concluded that bias in reporting cases of missing children does exist, and that reporters have an ethical obligation to report fairly. The study concludes by saying, "Missing children from minority groups are no less important than are those from the majority and, as such, have just as much right to have a face as opposed to being a mere statistic."

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