Child abuse and neglect fatalities, Casey Anthony, and children’s crash fatalities

Out to lunch with my friend Astrid, a psychologist, the other day, and we got to wondering: why Casey Anthony? Why this case?

I get the hatred directed at her. But why the attention?

On average, three to four children die every day in the US from abuse and neglect at the hands of their caretakers. The statistics in the US are remarkably consistent: about 1,300 children die from abuse and neglect every year. That means over 10,000 every decade. For comparison, about 2,000 children under the age of 16 die in auto crashes or motor-vehicle related deaths each year.* You would think that there would be many, many more children dying in car accidents, wouldn’t you? In 2009, the latest data year, the numbers were about even: 1,343 child fatalities from abuse and neglect, and about 1,500 crash-related deaths (See NHSTA).

So while I get it: it’s important that we all get our chance to judge Casey Anthony and be outraged at the Bad Mother because there is nothing worse in the patriarchy than A Bad Mother.

Do these kinds of trials and hype blind people to the fact that these deaths aren’t really that unusual? Is it reassuring to people to believe that Casey Anthony is a monster?

Because I do have to wonder why the other 1,299 children who will die this year–and next year, and the year after that–at the hands of their parents are not front-page news or worthy of Nancy Grace’s ire. The numbers suggest that bad parents are not in any short supply.

*Many, many more are injured however.

3 thoughts on “Child abuse and neglect fatalities, Casey Anthony, and children’s crash fatalities

  1. Easy one. Casey is white, femaile and cute. Caylee was white, female and cute. Also, the family is suburban (I think). If Casey was black or male, she would be spending the rest of her life (or most of it) in jail. If she were not attractive, the same would probably be true.

    • I’m usually sympathetic to racial bias theories, but…this time out, I’m not sure. Half of the kids that died last year were ethnically white. I am assuming that most of them were cute (kids are).

  2. It reminds me of the Jon Benet case, in that it gets picked up by the 24-hour news/tabloid cycle and just spins and spins on repeat. I’m sure children are dying of neglect in meth labs all the time, but that doesn’t make the news. I wonder how much of it is socioeconomic class? We are less surprised and see it as newsworthy when suburban/wealthy people abuse and neglect children? I’m not sure.

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