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Child Abductions in U.S. News Media


Spring-Serenity Duvall and Leigh Moscowitz

Few crimes provoke the collective fear, public outrage, and media fascination that child abductions do. Stories about missing children capture national headlines and dominate public discourses about crime and deviance, child safety, parenting, the American family, and gender and sexuality.
Snatched is the first book-length study to interrogate the predominant myths centered on gender and class that shaped mainstream U.S. news coverage of kidnappings in the 2000s. Through an exploration of hundreds of reports from newspapers, news magazines, television broadcasts, and web stories, Snatched critically analyzes how news narratives construct the phenomenon of child abductions, the young girls and boys who fall victim, the male perpetrators of these horrific crimes, and the adult victims of long-term abductions who were found years later. The book’s interdisciplinary nature, methodological rigor, and thorough investigation into some of the most riveting and revolting crimes of the last decade make Snatched a worthy, important, and timely contribution to the fields of media studies and girlhood studies.
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We are indebted to the many individuals whose support, insights and guidance made this book possible, from its imperfect origins as a class project through to its final publication. This project originated as part of our graduate work nearly a decade ago at the Indiana University School of Journalism, and we remain forever indebted to Radhika Parameswaran and Betsi Grabe, true teacher-scholars whose scholarship and mentorship provided us with the foundational tools that inspired and informed this work. We are also incredibly appreciative of the careful and attentive work of Sharon Mazzarella, our series editor, whose own scholarship shaped our thinking about this project. In addition, she devoted countless hours to reading, commenting on and critiquing various versions of this manuscript, providing critical insights that helped us refine our arguments. This book project would not have been possible without the work of Mary Savigar, our fantastic editor, as well as Sophie Appel and the entire Peter Lang production team.

Spring is indebted to Salem College for generously providing funding to support the production of this book. She is fortunate beyond measure to have friends and colleagues whose kindness sustained ← VII | VIII → her during the writing of this book, especially Jessica Birthisel, Lindita Camaj, Lori Henson, Stacie Jankowski, Ammina Kothari, and Rosemary Pennington. She would like to thank her sister, Robyn Dey O’Neal, for listening and understanding.

Finally, she is profoundly grateful for the love of her family—her daughters, Lilian and Rowan, whose smiles...

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