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concluded that in addition to race and class, factors such as supposed attractiveness, body size and youthfulness function as unfair criteria in the determination of newsworthiness in coverage of missing women.Also noteworthy was that news coverage of missing black women was more likely to focus on the victim’s baggage, such as abusive boyfriends or a troubled past, while coverage of white women tends to focus on their roles as mothers or daughters.Charlton Mc Ilwain, a professor at New York University, defines the syndrome as white women perpetually occupying a privileged role as violent crime victims in news media reporting, and concludes that missing white woman syndrome functions as a type of racial hierarchy in the cultural imagery of the West.Professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva categorizes the racial component of missing white woman syndrome as a form of racial grammar, through which white supremacy is normalized by implicit or even invisible standards.
Cited examples include Amanda Knox, Jodi Arias and Casey Anthony.
With regard to missing children, statistical research which compares national media reports with FBI data shows that there is marked under-representation of African American children in media reports relative to non-African American children.
A subsequent study found that girls from minority groups were the most under-represented in these missing-children news reports by a very large margin.
Figueroa disappeared in Philadelphia the same year Holloway disappeared.
Figueroa and her unborn daughter were found murdered. Armstrong wrote in the Washington Post that "the pattern of choosing only young, white, middle-class women for the full damsel treatment says a lot about a nation that likes to believe it has consigned race and class to irrelevance".