Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Pause for thought

Yesterday I walked into a room where the radio was playing and I caught part of an item called "Pause for Thought" which did make me do just that.

I have finally tracked down what it was all about. The speaker, Baroness Julia Neuberger, was talking about the high profile that some missing children receive compared to others.

I quote the first paragraph, the rest can be found here for the remainder of the week.

The horrors we hear from the children’s home in Jersey have been multiplying day by day. With its shackles and cellars, this may be the worst example of child abuse and cruelty we have heard about in recent years, but it brings out issues we should have been thinking about anyway. Children do make the news. We still hear constantly about Madeleine McCann, and the names of Sarah Payne, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman are engraved on the nation’s heart. But what about nine year old Shannon Matthews, who disappeared two weeks ago after leaving her primary school? The nation seems to have lost interest in her.

In essence, she was asking why the public and media seem less interested in Shannon Matthews. Is it because she isn't quite so pretty, not shy and timid, somehow less worthy? Is it because her parents aren't doctors, are less well-off, less able to manipulate the media?

So children with less ‘voice’, children experiencing appalling treatment, the child who disappears from a poor family, with little media experience …. They get a worse deal by far than the others. What does that say about our attitude to children? And particularly about our attitude to disadvantaged children?

It certainly has made me think. It was two weeks ago that Shannon Matthews disappeared, but there are very few pictures of her around, nothing like the media cover of the other young girls mentioned above. I haven't even been able to find a good quality image.

And if the less advantaged children in this country don't have a voice, how about the much less advantaged in the developing world?


  1. I have thought about this issue a lot and I think it's a good one to bring up. I live in the U.S. and we certainly have a similar situation here where some missing and exploited children capture a lot of media attention and public awareness, while others don't. It's hard for me to understand why it would be like that. I have always thought of this as being a shameful situation where I live. From your post I realize it's also a problem in other countries. Very sad.

  2. This got me thinking already a while back.
    I think it's the same in all of our developed nations.
    If the parents are o interest or are able to get the media rolling, something happens.
    If that's not the case, the kids are of no interest.
    Just another case of many :(

  3. Hi Carver, yes it's very much a problem here, and you are absolutely right, it's shameful.
    Nicole, I suspect it's a problem the world over. Those without a voice go unnoticed. How horrible it is to think one child is somehow "worth" more than another.

  4. It's pretty much the same all over - a train crash in Peru, would get a by-line on the website, unless there were UK citizens on it, in which case it makes the evening news. It's human nature to care about what's similar us, and to exclude that which isn't. Root of many problems. As even the Beeb is now ratings led, it has to provide news stories that interest us - in my view a slippery slope towards what I'm led to believe happens in the States, where people choose to watch one news channel over another according to political hue - mind you newsprint was ever thus.

  5. You are right about this. The world is really very unfair to the under privileged, be it poor people or third world countries.

  6. What a great contribution and to the point a reminder. I've heard about it in Norway too of course!

  7. One missing child is one too many.What's happening in this world that missing children have become a "regular" issue and it keeps happening?? It is devastating...

  8. This is a problem. We would want think all peaple are equal and receive the same treatment. But in fact, the best ideas have often a little place in our societies where money bekomes the principal project. Poor abandonned children...

  9. This post certainly has made me think as well. I think you are on the right track whith your hypotesis why it's the way it is.
    Frightening - and tells us to be very careful with what we read and see from the media. They filter and follow the money.

  10. hi, a. the less fortunate always gets the lesser publicity in whatever situation. how cruel this world is and it is happening everywhere.

    in our country, the victims from the poor sector always get the second hand treatment, nothing special, only euphemism.

  11. It's very sad. Now there is another 12 year old girl missing, and still hardly any media interest in finding them.

  12. Thank you all. I think you are right Tor, the media have a lot to answer for. They could so easily keep things in the public's mind.

  13. I am glad they have found Shannon Matthews alive. I have just read this.

  14. Yes, Hathor, it's a great relief. I have to confess I wasn't expecting that outcome. Now the media are saying the police took too long to find her...


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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