Jaycee's story more important than tracking Casey Anthony

by Jane Briggs-Bunting

Where in the world is Casey Anthony?

I don’t know, and I don’t care, and I think the media pursuit and frenzy over this question is both bizarre and foolish. Her parents care, and that’s appropriate. Likely the plaintiffs in the various lawsuits care because they have to serve her under the court rules. But the media frenzy, with more than likely a number of blank checks ready to be written, hurts journalism as a profession.

In stark contrast to the Anthony is kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard. What an amazing woman, she’s a true profile in courage and grace. She went through 18 years of hell, captured by a pedophile and his sidekick–his equally sicko wife. Diane Sawyer’s ABC interview was probing and often disturbing as Jaycee calmly related the day to day horrors of her existence during her imprisonment. ABC paid for her story, and likely People did, too.

Though the predator fathered two daughter on her in the course of repeated rapes, she clearly loves her girls and managed to transform evil into good.

Elizabeth Smart has shown similar grace. Her ordeal, though equally horrid, was mercifully shorter.

Compare that with the sad and pathetic Casey Anthony. We may never learn the truth of what happened to her young daughter, Caylee. Any of the grandparents (paternal or maternal) could file a wrongful death civil suit on behalf of the little girl. As part of discovery, Casey could be questioned about what happened to her daughter. Assuming (and this a big assumption) she would not lie, she could be compelled to testify or face civil contempt where she would hold the keys to her jail cell–all she’d have to do to stay out of jail or get out of jail would be to truthfully answer the question about what happened to her daughter. But truth seems elusive for her.

But we should never forget that there are thousands of other Caylees out there–children missing and/or murdered. And as terrible as Jaycee and Elizabeth’s ordeal was, they are still alive. The National Center for Missing Children
estimates that about 2,000 children a day are reported missing in the U.S. That’s nearly 800,000 each year. Approximately 200,00 are abducted by family members and 58,000 by non-family members or strangers. The website reports that dozens are victims of “stereotypical kidnapping. These crimes involve someone the child does not know, or knows only slightly, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.”

The media covered the kidnappings of Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard extensively, but many other children do not garner the same coverage. News media, at least at the local level, should focus on every child that goes missing, and devote no more time on tracking down Casey Anthony.