Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NCMEC drops the ball, speads more stranger danger

I have to admit one good thing about the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; they have been trying to dispel the "stranger danger" myth. Today, they released a major setback in their quest to dispel this myth. Below is their latest press release:



Rather than cut and paste the entire article, I will cut out the high points and point out the contradictions.

NEMEC: "An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing every year. That is 2,000 children every day or one child every 40 seconds. NCMEC analyzed more than 4200 attempted abductions for the five year period from February 2005 and March 2010 and found that:"

The stat is from the NISMART-2; 800,000 missing child reports are just that-- missing person reports. They do not clarify that fact that of the 800k reports, the vast majority are runaway/ throwaway children. Part 2 is a structural issue because it implies that each of the 800,000 reports are the same as abductions.The problem is they took two stats that are not alike and put the two together. They clarify this later on in the report but by then the damage has been done.

NCMEC: "Parents also need to understand that most of those who abduct children are not 'strangers'. The phrase 'stranger danger' is pervasive in our culture. However, teaching children to only be afraid of strangers is the wrong message. Children don’t get it. Children view a 'stranger' as someone who is 'ugly' or 'mean'. If someone spends time talking to a child or is even just around a child they think they “know” the person and don’t view them as a stranger. Research shows that of the 58,000 non-family abductions each year 63% involved a friend, long-term acquaintance, neighbor, caretaker, baby sitter or person of authority and only 37% involved a stranger. The number of pure strangers is not insignificant but it remains far smaller than other offenders who have easy and legitimate access to children."

This should have been mentioned without the 800,000 missing child report statistics, most of which are runaways. From the 58,000 "non-family abductions, that'd be roughly 19,000 "stranger" abductions. The definition of abduction in the NISMART-2 report is rather vague. The criteria is extrapolated from the NISMART-2:

Thus, NISMART–2 defined a missing child in two ways:
first, in terms of those who were missing from their caretakers
(“caretaker missing”); and second, in terms of those
who were missing from their caretakers and reported to
an agency for help locating them (“reported missing”).
NISMART–2 counts a child as missing from the caretaker’s
perspective when the child experienced a qualifying
episode during which the child’s whereabouts were
unknown to the primary caretaker, with the result that
the caretaker was alarmed for at least 1 hour and tried to
locate the child. For an episode to qualify, the child had
to be younger than 18 and the situation had to meet the
specific criteria for one of the following NISMART–2
episode types (summarized in the sidebar on page 4):
■ Nonfamily abductions (including a subcategory,
stereotypical kidnappings).
■ Family abductions.
■ Runaway/thrownaway episodes.

Nonfamily Abduction
A nonfamily abduction occurs when a nonfamily perpetrator
takes a child by the use of physical force or threat of bodily
harm or detains a child for at least 1 hour in an isolated place
by the use of physical force or threat of bodily harm without
lawful authority or parental permission; or when a child who
is younger than 15 years old or is mentally incompetent, without
lawful authority or parental permission, is taken or detained
by or voluntarily accompanies a nonfamily perpetrator
who conceals the child’s whereabouts, demands ransom, or
expresses the intention to keep the child permanently [Emphasis added]

Stereotypical Kidnapping
A stereotypical kidnapping occurs when a stranger or slight
acquaintance perpetrates a nonfamily abduction in which the
child is detained overnight, transported at least 50 miles, held
for ransom, abducted with intent to keep the child permanently,
or killed.

But there was no mention of the stats for "stereotypical" abductions, which was 115, the high-profile cases people fear most. There is no clarification between the different types of missing person reports, and without even knowing the NISMART-2 was quoted, you have no way of clarifying the facts.

This poses another question--why did they look at only attempted abductions rather than actual abductions? The scenario is a little stereotypical. What were the other scenarios involved? I'd like to know.

The bottom line: They should know better than to write such a easily misread article.

This news story already shows how the article is already misread and misinterpreted; notice the headline:

New Stranger Danger: Sex offenders target middle school-aged children

Read more: http://www.cbs12.com/articles/kids-4729646-children-school.html#ixzz15SZHJKNM

"JUPITER, Fla.-- It's something many kids have to do, walk to and from school. But it's a passage of childhood filled with peril.... The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says a startling amount of attempted abductions, 43%, now involve kids between the ages of 10 and 14. 38% of attempted abductions take place to and from school. And about the same number of cases,37%, occur between the hours of 2pm and 7pm. The results were released in August after the NCMEC analyzed over 4200 attempted abductions between 2005 and 2010..."

No mention of the NCMEC's warning about how the number of true stranger abductions. After all, the whole point is to scare you. Do we really need ignorance and fear to be the catalyst for teaching a few tips on prevention? I have no problem with the safety tips. However, our culture of fear mongering has also made us very blind and hypersensitive to the true degree of risk. It is sad we cannot learn honesty in addressing the issue. The NCMEC really dropped the ball on this one!

UPDATE: Read eAdvocate's dissection of the CBS 12 article by clicking on the link below:


1 comment:

  1. why do you say they dropped the ball? they are trying to obtain funding from the feds. For money people will lie, cheat and steal, what would make these hucksters any different?