Children's and parents' fright reactions to kidnapping stories in the news

Barbara Jan Wilson, Nicole Martins, Amy L. Marske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We conducted a random telephone survey of 182 parents to assess their reactions as well as their children's reactions to child kidnapping stories in the news. Children below age 13 experienced more fright-related feelings and more concern for their personal safety than adolescents did. Children who were heavy viewers of TV news also were more frightened. Parents rated themselves as more upset by the stones than their children were. Parents' fright responses and coping strategies were more prevalent among those who paid close attention to the high-profile news stories and those who regularly viewed TV series about missing persons. The findings are discussed in terms of cultivation theory and developmental differences in how children process information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-70
Number of pages25
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005


  • Children's Fright
  • Developmental Differences
  • Kidnapping Stories
  • Parents' Fright
  • Television News

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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