I am writing this letter as a concerned citizen. I'm writing about a bias that has always existed in the media. It once again brought itself to the forefront with the the Casey Anthony trial. A little white girl goes missing or is murdered, and it explodes into a national story. It is a tragedy. I understand this. I understand that you guys cannot cover every single disappearance with the zealousness you did with Caylee Anthony, or Natalee Holloway,or Elizabeth Smart, or JonBenet Ramsey, or Phylicia Barnes. Oh, you don't know who Phylicia Barnes is?
Phylicia Barnes was a beautiful 16 year old straight "A" student from North Carolina who disappeared in December during a Christmas break visit to her sister. Her naked body was found April along with that of another man. The major difference between those girls and Phylicia Barnes-Phylicia Barnes was black. There were no nightly specials. I didn't even hear about her on my local news. I first saw it days after she disappeared on an AOL news page. I saw another mention around her birthday in January. Then nothing else until her body was found in April. Yet, Natalee Holloway has been missing since 2005, and there is still interest in her case-almost as much as JonBenet Ramsey who was murdered in 1996. Yet, I haven't even seen an update on Phylicia Barnes until I looked for it today.
While I was doing research on Phylicia Barnes, I found Mya Lyons. Never heard of her? Me, either. She was pretty little 9 year old girl who first suffered blunt-trauma injuries — including multiple skull fractures — before she was asphyxiated and stabbed more than 10 times. Mya had the sad misfortune of dying around the time that people were first learning about a missing little girl named Caylee Anthony. Like Caylee, Mya's parent, in this case her father, is charged earlier this year for the crime-two years after the fact. I didn't know about it until today.
In 2006, the FBI issued a report that 662,196 children were reported lost, runaway and kidnapped in 2005-58% of those were girls; 33% were African American; 2/3 of the missing were between the ages 15-17; 2, 223 were infants. How many of them can I recall from that year? Just Natalee Holloway. I know that it is impossible to spend time every night reporting the over half a million children that go missing in this country every year, but it is possible to give some of these children and their parents more assistance. Race, age, culture, and gender should not always be a factor.
The U.S. Department of Justice reports
- 797,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a one-year period of time studied resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day.
- 203,900 children were the victims of family abductions.
- 58,200 children were the victims of non-family abductions.
- 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. These crimes involve someone the child does not know or a slight acquaintance who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.
- AMBER Alerts
- Since 1997, the AMBER Alert program has been credited with the safe recovery of 525 children.
- To date there is a network of more than 120 AMBER Plans across the country.
Until next time, "We cannot fashion our children after our desires, we must have them and love them as God has given them to us."~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe