How inflated statistics, cultural anxieties and moral crusaders turned a tiny number of missing children into a decade-long political project. Digressions include 1870s parenting, “E.T.” and the lack of parks in Los Angeles. Both co-hosts secretly believe that the popularity of TV movies in the 1980s explains all of America’s social problems.
- Podcast Patron Saint Joel Best’s terrific 1988 article debunking the “missing children” statistics
- “The Enterprise of Child Safety in the Age of Reagan”: Another great article on how missing children became a right-wing political crusade
- A lovely rumination on the disappearance of Etan Patz and what it meant for kids in New York City
- A 2009 New York Magazine feature on the suspect in the Etan Patz murder
- 1977 article on the “discovery” of child abuse
- Spin Doctors and Moral Crusaders: The Moral Panic behind Child Safety Legislation
- The long, weird and winding podcast series on the disappearance of Adam Walsh
- Terrific analysis of the “children as prey” trope
- Philip Jenkins’ Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America
- The Maryland parents who came under police suspicion for letting their children go to the park
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