Black and Latinx teens, on average, are more vulnerable to the type of abuse that provokes a teen to run away from home because they are more likely to live in high-risk environments. But prevailing narratives that these missing children are just runaways leads to less sympathy and media coverage for them when they are reported as missing.
Take the case of Relisha Rudd, an eight year old who went missing in D.C. in 2014. Her case was almost exclusively covered by The Washington Post, and a handful of local and black news outlets. Cable news did not loop the disappearance of Rudd like they did for the highly publicized cases of Natalee Holloway, Elizabeth Smart or Caylee Anthony.
Little mainstream media coverage is contingent upon the belief that black and brown girls are less valuable, says Hillary Potter, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. And she adds the lack of coverage has another dangerous effect: It can perpetuate the idea that black and brown girls aren’t victimized.