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Stranger Danger – Family Values, Childhood, and the American Carceral State - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Stranger Danger: Family Values, Childhood, and the American Carceral State

Paul M. Renfro


Starting in the late 1970s, a moral panic concerning child kidnapping and exploitation gripped the United States. For many Americans, a series of high-profile cases of missing and murdered children, publicized through an emergent twenty-four-hour news cycle, signaled a “national epidemic” of child abductions perpetrated by strangers. Some observers insisted that fifty thousand or more children fell victim to stranger kidnappings in any given year. (The actual figure was and remains about one hundred.) Stranger Danger demonstrates how racialized and sexualized fears of stranger abduction—stoked ... More

Keywords: carceral state, childhood, 1980s, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, John Walsh, Wayne Williams, neoliberalism

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2020 Print ISBN-13: 9780190913984
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190913984.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Paul M. Renfro, author
Assistant Professor of History, Florida State University

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