Social Work

Professor Kim Anderson Explains “Missing White Woman Syndrome”

Written By: UCF School of Social Work | October 11, 2021

On left a police man holding a
"Missing white woman syndrome" refers to the disproportionate media coverage of how missing/murdered upper-class white women are portrayed in the media more than missing/murdered lower-class non-white women.

UCF Social Work Professor Kim Anderson spoke to News13 on the research pertaining to “missing white woman syndrome,” a concept that refers to the disproportionate media coverage of how missing/murdered upper-class white women are portrayed in the media more than missing/murdered lower-class non-white women.  

“This concept not only talks about the race hierarchy, but also the social-economic hierarchy. It has also been expanded to a particular type of victim that is generally attractive, youthful and of a particular size,” said Anderson on the podcast.  

Anderson discusses how when non-white women who are missing are reported by the media, the coverage differs and typically has a negative light. “It’s often something non-white women did or something that caused the victimization to happen. Whereas the reporting for missing white women, it’s really about the circumstances that happened to them and not necessarily what they may have done. So that has implications in how we view victims in society,” explained Anderson.  

 To hear more about the missing white woman syndrome, listen to Professor Anderson on the News 13, “Central Florida: Beyond the Soundbite” podcast 

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