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Media Reflection On The Problem Of Missing Children

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The disappearance of Madeleine McCann alongside other children missing has been wondering in everyone’s head as to what happened to these missing children? have they been found? , will they be found?. This essay will be answering most of the questions raised about Madeleine McCann missing also the missing mysteries of other missing children whose stories were newsworthy by the media and evidence gathered by Police.

This essay will also be reflecting on how the media portrays these stories and how much is done about finding these missing children yet their disappearances go amiss. In 2007 on the 3rd of May Madeleine McCann went missing from her hotel bedroom it claims she had vanished in thin air, Madeleine was just 3 years old when she went missing, she was on holiday with her parents in Portugal.

Madeleine’s parents had taken Madeleine and her younger twin siblings who were 2 years old at the time on holiday to Portugal at a resort called Praia Da Luz. Madeleine’s parents had left Madeleine and her 2 siblings asleep whilst they went out for dinner with their friends at a Tapas restaurant. The McCann’s took turns to check up on their kids throughout dinner when it struck around 10 pm Kate McCann (Madeleine McCann’s mum) had noticed her daughter was missing. The first suspect who Police believed had been involved in abducting Madeleine was 33-year old Robert Murat.

Robert was a British-Portuguese real estate consultant. It was reported that around 9:15 pm that a man was carrying a child and was walking towards Robert Murat’s house. Nobody had noticed at 9:15 pm that Madeleine was missing as Kate McCann went to check up on her children at 10 pm,also there was absolutely no evidence that connected Robert Murat to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

After four months of Madeleine missing Portuguese Police had put Gerry McCann and Kate McCann who are Madeleine’s parents as suspects different stories were being shared by the media some people believed she had died in the apartment others believed that her ‘kidnapping’ was just to cover up the story to cover up her death.

Evidence that led the Portuguese Police in believing that Madeleine’s parents were behind the disappearance of Madeleine was that the McCann’s had hired a car 24 days after Madeleine went missing and the car had DNA evidence which matched Madeleine also, the fact that both of Madeleine’s parents were doctors and the Portuguese Police believed that they had given their daughter Madeleine a sedative for her to fall asleep. Police sniffer dogs from the UK were called to find Madeleine or any evidence which led to her disappearance, 15 out of 19 DNA pieces of evidence were found of Madeleine in her parents hired car even though the car was hired 24 days after Madeleine went missing.

Kate and Gerry McCann were cleared of Madeleine’s abduction in July 2008. It was then discovered after 13 years of Madeleine’s abduction that Madeleine was abducted by paedophiles in 2007 when she went missing.

In 2014 four men who resided in Praia Da Luz who were seen wandering around at the time Madeleine was abducted. Madeline’s suspected abductors were questioned but they were released as there was not enough solid evidence to link them to the abduction. Another theory was unravelled that Madeline had been abducted by a local paedophile as 38 well-known sex offenders resided in Algrave. The area Madeleine was abducted in was a magnet for paedophiles.

It was said that girls matching Madeleine’s description were seen in lots of places in Europe and Africa in 2008 Police investigated a Belgium based paedophile ring in which they believed Madeleine was abducted by them. It is said that this group had ordered a young girl and they may have taken a picture of Madeleine beforehand to sign off her disappearance.

Till this day Madeleine’s disappearance still remains unravelled. As soon as the British media found out about Madeleine headlines hit the news such as ‘The parents of a three-year-old British girl who went missing last night while on a family holiday in Portugal fear she has been abducted.’’ (The Guardian 2007).

This shocked the entire British nation as per how can a 3-year-old British girl go missing. Headlines hit the news parents were scared to take their kids on holidays parents were also scared of letting their children out of the house. Madeleine’s disappearance in Portugal became very popular and a lot of different media sources portrayed it.

Football players wore T-shirts with pictures of Madeleine, banks and local communities had plastered posters of missing Madeleine everywhere, Madeleine missing was Britain’s biggest loss ever as she was just an innocent little girl.

Madeleine McCann’s disappearance was a very high profile case for the whole of Britain. From before when Madeleine McCann went missing in 2007 up until now lots of children from under the age of 18 have gone missing but them missing has gone unreported the media did not make a big deal out of it as they did with Madeleine because she went missing on holiday in Portugal and the fact that both her parents are doctors in the UK.

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In 1996 on November the 2nd a young boy named Damien Nettles, Damien was only 16 years of age when he went missing. It is reported that Damien had gone to a friend’s party he was reported missing on 3rd November Hampshire Police had not taken his disappearance seriously because they had mistakenly reported his age as 19 years old. The Police had refused to search for Damien so his family and friends gathered together to look for him, they visited local businesses for CCTV.

‘’When Mrs Nettles phoned the station a few days later for an update, she was deemed a hysterical mother. She was told she was hampering the investigation by keep calling them.’’ (Damien Nettles 2017) Damien missing was not a big deal to Hampshire police, the thought of losing her loved one and Police not helping in looking for him was very shocking and appalling for Damien’s mother. Damien’s case remains unsolved to this day.

Damien’s case was newsworthy as it was a very sensitive case but it was not as sensitive and more newsworthy as Madeleine’s disappearance because Madeleine was the daughter of two doctors and Damien was not also because Madeleine went missing on holiday and she was very young when she disappeared. Coming back on the disappearance of Damien and Madeline there were a couple of differences as Damien went missing in 1996 not much resources were available to locate Damien and Madeleine went missing in 2007 where most resources were available another reason is Madeleine was just a child and was female whereas Damien was older than Madeleine and Damien was male.

The reason behind why it is a big deal about male and female missing is that females are more likely to be kidnapped and go missing because they are most likely to be used as human trafficking around the world and are easy victims as they are vulnerable as much as males are vulnerable but with females, it is more of an intense situation. Females are also used for sham weddings to older men or men overseas.

‘’According to the latest global figures – from 2017 – 51% of people trafficked worldwide are children, 76% are female and 69% of victims are trafficked for sex.’’ (Sky News 2019)

A story that was very newsworthy for Britain was the fake kidnapping of Shannon Matthews. 9-year-old Shannon Matthews went missing from outside her school in Dewsbury on 19th February 2008 her school was half a mile away from her home. Shannon was missing for 24 days. ‘’The nine-year-old was found tethered and drugged inside the base of a double bed at relative Michael Donovan’s grotty flat almost a month after she disappeared.

An elasticated strap with a noose on the end was found in his loft and may have been used as a method of restraint when he went out. With it around her waist, Shannon would have been able to use the toilet and certain rooms, but not get out of the flat. Police described the moment they found her hidden inside a divan bed, tied with rope and drugged.’’ (The Sun 2018).

It was confirmed that Shannon’s mother Karen had organised for her daughter to be fake kidnapped just for a reward of £50,000 Karen played the victim in the whole kidnapping and was later arrested after she was found guilty of kidnapping, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

When Shannon was found she was taken by social services and was given a whole new identity and Karen Matthews had the rest of her children taken off her and they were all given new identities too. This was a very newsworthy story as Shannon Matthews was just nine years old and she was a vulnerable child anything could have happened to her. Edward and Linda Bryant adopted 2 young boys named Austin and Edward; both of these boys were classified as special needs. Edwards and Linda ( adoptive parents)both received subsidies by the government for the care of the 2 boys.

Linda and Edward used to foster children after they fostered most children they adopted seven other children. In 2011 it was reported that Austin was not seen since 2005 and his brother Edward was not seen since 2001. Authorities did not check up on both boys until 2011. Officials found out that there was no trace of either of the boys after 2003 when Austin was withdrawn from a Christian school to be homeschooled. When the Bryants were confronted they claimed that both of the brothers had run away. Edward Bryant (the adoptive father) claimed that Edward ran away in 2001 at the age of 9 and Austin ran away in 2005 at the age of 7 whilst his wife Linda claimed they both ran away in 2003 at the age of 11 and 7.

Linda and Edward did not report the missing of both boys and they continued to receive money from the government for the care of both boys until their absence was noticed in 2011 by authorities. It was reported that one of the boys had been abused and was denied food, beaten locked in a truck and even been tasered. There was no trace of any of the boys, their case remains open but police believe both boys have died. Different media published different stories about the missing boys Austin and Edward.

‘’Edward and Linda Bryant have been accused of theft, forgery and several other related offences. But are they also guilty of murdering two adoptive children, then continuing to collect aid checks in their names.’’(Westword March 2011) Different stories and headings were given about the missing boys Austin and Edward; their adoptive parents were eventually arrested and were also found guilty for murdering both of the boys.

All the research that was done and the findings that were dug out about children missing have shown that not every child missing matters to the media. The media focuses on facts and evidence found by the Police that they believe will lead to the missing child, that’s why the media focuses on those stories who they feel have hope in finding these young children missing. An example of that would be Madeleine’s disappearance was given more attention because she was the daughter of 2 British doctors and she went missing in Portugal despite many efforts unfortunately to this day her disappearance remains unsolved

Every missing child’s story should be newsworthy but the media only relies on how much evidence there is to find linkings to the missing children. The essay with the evidence given answers as per to missing children. Most of the children in this essay were not found and their disappearances remain a mystery and a shock to the nation.

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Media Reflection On The Problem Of Missing Children. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“Media Reflection On The Problem Of Missing Children.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
Media Reflection On The Problem Of Missing Children. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Sept. 2023].
Media Reflection On The Problem Of Missing Children [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Sept 22]. Available from:
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