Amber alerts pop up on freeway signs and interrupt radio and television programming. We hear about Polly Klaas, Adam Walsh, and other children who were kidnapped and murdered. Now it’s Isabel Celis in Tucson, Arizona. Child advocacy groups start talking about the hundreds of thousands of children (usually they cite “every 40 seconds”) who go missing every year, the media runs with the story–often adding in something about how the number is growing–and parents around the country panic.
There is no question that every single missing child is a horrible tragedy, but the numbers and pseudo statistics that get thrown around do more harm than good.