On Sensational News Headlines ...


So, July 30th was Child Trafficking Awareness Day. The statistic that the media and advocates often quote is 'Half a million child abductions in the United States per year'.  Wow.  Child abduction is terrible and it definitely happens.  It is sick and we need to remove this evil from the world, for sure.

In order to draw attention to any problem, the advocate must define why this problem is worth caring about and possibly, why its worth your money or time.  The objective is to play on the human capacity for empathy ... the more people/families impacted by the issue, the more stress the observer will feel and the more empathy they'll feel towards the victims, driving them towards an action.  It's how TV dramas work, how movies work and how new media works.  No one will consume media that doesn't invoke a feeling in us.  Honestly, who would read or watch a news story that 99.99% of people on the planet had a regular day.  90+% of them went to work or school.  Almost everyone spent some time with family or friends and experienced at least one smile.  Most people ate at least one meal (only approx 0.0008% of the world population will die from hunger this year).

That kind of story is not going to mobilise people into action.  So, sensational stories of the one-off, low percentage events dominate the news, with emotional advocates exaggerating the extent of the problem by telling the story that happened to THEM and making you believe that it could happen to you ("if it can happen to me, it could happen to anybody").

Lets break down the 500 000 missing children number for a second:
According to the FBI (and numbers vary by year, I will use rounded estimates):
  • 500 000 reports of missing children in the US:
  • 470 000 are caregivers who have temporarily misplaced the children in their care
  • 30 000 missing or abducted children
of those 30 000:
  • 91% are runaways
  • 4% family abductions
  • 4% are young adults between 18-20
  • 0.5% non-family (stranger) abductions (150 of the 75 000 000 children)
  • Less than 1% lost/injured (accidental)

The best estimate of of children that are considered victims of "sex trafficking" is 1 in 6, or 5000 - and this term is used for a broad spectrum of activities - its not just strangers snatching up and then buying and selling children - it also includes prostitution, and all aspects of the adult industry (and whether some of those are actually a choice can be debated indefinitely).

Please understand that I am not saying this isn't a serious issue.  It sure is, and we need to root out this evil exploitation of children from the world.  But creating fear is not helpful.  Let me put this in perspective - if 500 000 children are abducted per year and there are 130 000 K-12 schools in the US, that would mean 3 kids in EVERY SCHOOL are abducted every year.  I don't know about you, but I am 100% sure that in my 5 years of High School FIFTEEN (15) students didn't go missing!  I am sure we would have heard about that!  The reality for parents is that there is less chance of your child being abducted in a sex traffic ring than there is of them winning a SuperBowl.

I don't claim to have any answers here - I would love to live in a world where 100% of children are safe, healthy and free from abuse of any kind.  Everyone should be more vigilant (remember that 470 000 "missing children" are a result of misplacement by the adults charged with their care!), but fear mongering is not helpful ... and fear mongering as a way to separate people from their money is morally questionable.

Understand what you read.  Ask questions and be kind to each other.     

#conspiracy #childabductions #fakenews

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