By Mary Ann Stokes
The tragic case of Jamie Bulger, the murder of Sarah Payne and the international mystery of Madeleine McCann are three of the many shocking and disturbing accounts of child abductions experienced by the people of the United Kingdom over the past decade. In the aftermath of these incidents the issue of extra-familial child abduction was named as the greatest fear of British parents (Pain 2006). Child abduction has also been catapulted to the fore of concerns for urban communities, childcare professionals and the media, with increased vigilance and mobilisation on issues of child safety. The central question of this article is: To what extent is the fear of ‘stranger danger’ socially constructed? The sub-questions branching from this ask what the effects of this fear, either constructivist or realist, are on the community, parents and children, respectively. In other words, what are the obvious and realistic social problems emanating from the phenomenon of ‘stranger danger’?
This article by Mary Anne Stokes was originally published in Amsterdam Social Science Volume 1 Issue 3 (2009). Click here for the complete article.