Chicago's missing children: where is the attention they deserve?

Chicago's missing children: where is the attention they deserve?

As a strong advocate for the safe return of missing children everywhere, I am always amazed at the number of cases that are unsolved. I am also baffled by the lack of attention that many missing persons/children receive. This is in direct contrast to the amount of attention that has been received by cases such as Lauren Spierer. I have written about Lauren in great detail several times and the interest level in her case astounds me.

The first time I wrote about Lauren I wondered if the amount of attention she was getting fell into the class of "Missing White Woman Syndrome". According to Wikipedia, this is classifed as "a term used by some media and social critics to describe the disproportionate degree of coverage in television, radio, newspaper and magazine reporting of an adversity, most often a missing person case, involving a young, white, upper-middle class (frequently blonde) woman or girl. This degree of coverage is usually contrasted with cases concerning a missing male, or missing females of other ethnicities, socioeconomic classes or physical attractiveness."

Lauren is a white, petite blonde that comes from an upper-middle class family. The media attention has been off the charts. America's Most Wanted, Nancy Grace and countless other sources have continued to cover the case. My own reasons for covering it stem from my daughter having attended the same University and living in the same building as Lauren. Not because she is white, blonde or otherwise. Plus, I can only imagine the pain her parents are going through -  pain as real as any other parent who has a missing child.

In reviewing the Illinois records on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are 45 active records for Chicago alone. (124 in Illinois). Please take a moment to review.

Of the 45 Chicago records, most are ethnic minorities. Many are classified as endangered runaways. Some are very recent; where is the media coverage for them?? They all have loved ones that reported them missing. They all are someone's child. Should the media should lend equal attention to all missing persons?

If a child is listed as an endangered runaway should they be acknowledged as strongly as a missing baby or toddler? Do you think that ethnicity prevails in the search for this category?

The Caylee Anthony case commanded a major force in the news media for a long period of time. Currently, there are a few other cases that are receiving nationwide attention. The cases in Chicago have either escaped my attention or as I suspect, not received the attention they deserve. This gives me pause to believe that there is credence to the theory of Missing White Woman Syndrome.

While searching for missing cases in other states I came upon a current one for a 5 year old African American girl, Jahessye Shockly of Glendale, AZ. During my google search, the news was primarily centered in Arizona; I don't recall seeing coverage here. Why? Why was Caylee Anthony nationwide while Jahessye is only local where she went missing?

All our children deserve attention when they go missing. It shouldn't matter if they are white, black, hispanic, asian or otherwise. They are our children and have parents and loved ones that pray for them to be found.

Do you have a loved one that is missing? Do you feel that the media should be giving it more attention? Do you feel that there is discrimination in who the attention is given to?

Please post your thoughts. The more attention this receives, the better chances at getting something done.



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  • fb_avatar

    There are huge discrepancies in the reporting of missing children.

    When a child is missing, the family files a police report and the police enter the child into the National Crime and Information Center (NCIC). If there is indication that the child is in immediate danger, an alert of one kind or another will go out along with a press release. This is across the board.

    In the world of the missing, the parents, guardians, law enforcement, families, and friends are all stretched beyond explanation. When the investigating department sends out a press release, the media will, more often than not, print the information. Too often, the media stories will be lacking in photo and/or adequate physical description of the child. Or they will print misinformation. Rumors are all too often printed as fact. Quotes are made from maybes. The media also does not always follow up on the relatively 'minor' cases, to inform the public when a child is located.

    Presumed runaways rarely make the news. The parents have to press hard. And after contacting the Police to file a report, they are at a loss for what to do next. Whether a child is a runaway or not, after filing the report, the parents need to obtain the NCIC number from the Police and then contact NCMEC @ 1-800-THE-LOST.

    Beyond all this, there is a serious difference in the presence of media coverage between the Black, Hispanic, and White children. There is also a difference in coverage of missing children in lower income areas.

    There is an ever increasing number of individuals becoming aware of the world of missing children and who take the time to get the information and photos into the public eye, to give the children a better chance of being found. While there will always be the need for improvement in the process and the system, the increasing number of individuals interested and DOING in order to help will aide law enforcement's efforts to bring the missing home.

    A final note: Please Help Missing Children does not discriminate between color, race, religion, or case types. I go by the premise that until a child is located, no matter what the circumstance, he or she is in danger until the Police have them in their custody.

  • fb_avatar

    Please note: The logo for PHMC that is used above, should be used with my permission. In your efforts to bring attention to the missing children, I give my permission for use in this article.
    Katie Lincoln,
    Please Help Missing Children

  • In reply to Katie Lincoln:

    Thank you so much for your informative response. I apologize for the use of the logo without first requesting permission. I appreciate that you have offered it.

    There are vast differences in the reporting and I would love to see this change. Should there be any type of volunteer opportunities for your organization, I would be interested. This is a cause I am most adamant about. With great fortune I have never had to experience the nightmare but there are too many families that do.

    Thanks again for writing, I am most grateful.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    Thank you, Teppi.
    I can not emphasize enough how sincerely grateful I am that you took the time to address some of the issues involved in our missing children.

    I began PHMC almost 5 years ago. Since then, to be honest, it's only been me running the lot. There is a main site, blog, FB page, FB cause, Twitter, and Critical Missing Children Alert System. While there have been a number of people who have volunteered to help, intention and passion does not work without follow through. I should mention that PHMC is not yet an organization, although this is in the works (ever so slow as the process may be). Teppi, it get's beyond difficult. It all can be incredibly overwhelming emotionally. If you would like to help, in what ever time you can give, please contact me at Or on FB at

    Thank you so much.
    Katie Lincoln,
    Please Help Missing Children

  • fb_avatar

    Teppi, I am grateful for the article you've written. There just is not enough people involved. You and others who take the time to write about the many facets of the missing is vital to getting further interest by more people. Awareness of this entire realm is never enough.

    I am ALWAYS looking for assistance in the site. As happens often, people offer their assistance, but fail to follow through. Intention and passion is wonderful. But without true dedication, things do not get done.
    I began PHMC almost 5 years ago. The truth is, it is still only me working the site. There is an incredible amount of work to do, and each day I feel as though I only scratch the surface. And please understand... PHMC is 'only' a site (and Blog, Twitter, Facebook page, Facebook Cause, and Critical Missing Children Alert System). It is not yet an organization, although this is in the works. If you are serious about wanting to assist, I would be sincerely grateful for any help you have time to give.
    My email is For now, the main site is, FB page is (Please Help Missing Children Web), PHMC Blog is, FB cause is and then there is the Critical Missing Children Alert System on Facebook (for children who do not meet the AMBER Alert criteria, AMBER Alerts and Endangered Missing Child Alerts)
    :smile: That's all there is. ;o)
    For now lol
    God Bless you always. <3

  • fb_avatar

    <> Since it didnt look like the first reply went through, I posted a second. I apologize.

  • In reply to Katie Lincoln:

    Thank you for all the information. I will email you and we can discuss what I may be able to do. THANK YOU!!

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