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"Every parent's worst nightmare": Myths of Child Abductions in the News
Unformatted Document Text:  7 in women and girls (Carter, 1998), and sexual deviance and violence in masculinity (Consalvo, 2003). For example, while the murder of females is reported more often, statistics indicate that men are most likely to be the victims of homicide (Carter, 1998, p. 228). The rarest crimes such as stranger rape are over represented, while the more common incidents of familial abuse are downplayed: This daily diet of representations of the most brutal forms of sexual violence constructs the world outside as well as inside the front door as highly dangerous places for women and girls, one in which sex crimes have become an ordinary, taken-for-granted feature of everyday life (Carter, 1998, p. 231). Several researchers have theorized that in reporting on children, the mass media serve the contradictory function of celebrating and sexualizing girlhood while at the same time policing youth sexuality (Fass, 2002; Hartley, 1998; Levine, 2002). The modern news media have become intensely concerned about girls, as they have become the subject of an unprecedented amount of hard news reporting on youth sexuality, teenage pregnancy, pedophilia, child pornography, anorexia, crime committed by children and crimes done to children (Hartley, 1998, p. 53). The news media police juvenile behavior by defining what is appropriate for pre-pubescents, but at the same time celebrate their innocence and even attractiveness. As one example, newspapers will sometimes juxtapose ads for a children’s photography contest next to a story about a search for a young child’s body (Fass, 2002, p. 236). This contradiction especially manifests itself in the coverage of child victims like JonBenet Ramsey: Children who are destroyed or shamed by their adult-like characteristics mark the boundary of adulthood, and put children firmly outside of it, but the same children

Authors: Fu, Liu ., Moellers, Beth., Moscowitz, Leigh ., Duvall, Spring-Serenity. and Tan, Yue.
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in women and girls (Carter, 1998), and sexual deviance and violence in masculinity
(Consalvo, 2003). For example, while the murder of females is reported more often,
statistics indicate that men are most likely to be the victims of homicide (Carter, 1998, p.
228). The rarest crimes such as stranger rape are over represented, while the more
common incidents of familial abuse are downplayed:
This daily diet of representations of the most brutal forms of sexual violence
constructs the world outside as well as inside the front door as highly dangerous
places for women and girls, one in which sex crimes have become an ordinary,
taken-for-granted feature of everyday life (Carter, 1998, p. 231).
Several researchers have theorized that in reporting on children, the mass media
serve the contradictory function of celebrating and sexualizing girlhood while at the same
time policing youth sexuality (Fass, 2002; Hartley, 1998; Levine, 2002). The modern
news media have become intensely concerned about girls, as they have become the
subject of an unprecedented amount of hard news reporting on youth sexuality, teenage
pregnancy, pedophilia, child pornography, anorexia, crime committed by children and
crimes done to children (Hartley, 1998, p. 53). The news media police juvenile behavior
by defining what is appropriate for pre-pubescents, but at the same time celebrate their
innocence and even attractiveness. As one example, newspapers will sometimes
juxtapose ads for a children’s photography contest next to a story about a search for a
young child’s body (Fass, 2002, p. 236). This contradiction especially manifests itself in
the coverage of child victims like JonBenet Ramsey:
Children who are destroyed or shamed by their adult-like characteristics mark the
boundary of adulthood, and put children firmly outside of it, but the same children


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