Why aren't all missing children treated the same? A number of Radio 5 Live listeners got in touch, comparing the case of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews, who's been missing for two weeks, and that of Madeleine McCann. Some felt Shannon's case had been given considerably less attention. Here are a couple of the texts we received:
"Maddie's case is VERY different - kid left alone, abroad, much younger etc etc. Don't do the 'ooh, us poor northerners' line. Tim, Hull"
Did the perceptions match the facts? We asked reporter Cory Allen to compare both cases.
By Cory Allen.
Nine-year-old Shannon Matthews has been missing for over two weeks. She got off the school bus after a swimming lesson in Dewsbury West Yorkshire and never came home.
The similarities drawn with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are stark; two little girls go missing without a trace. In both cases the police appear to have very little to go on. Madeleine was snatched from her bed in the night while her brother and sister lay sleeping in the same room. Shannon Matthews got off a school bus at 3.10pm on Tuesday, 19 February and never stepped foot through her front door. In Shannon's case the investigating officers have less to go on, due to a lack of witnesses. No-one saw which way she went.
For the past two weeks the media has been following the story of Shannon's disappearance with leading articles on all major networks and coverage in the press including her mother 32-year-old Karen Matthews appealing for her safe return on Mothering Sunday. But has the media been as enthusiastic in the sheer volume of coverage as that of the Madeleine McCann case?
If you look at the statistics as reported in the Belfast Telegraph nine days into the coverage of Madeleine there was 465 number of press stories compared with 242 of Shannon.
In the first two weeks, we heard something from the McCann family every other day and a campaign got underway very quickly with well-known people like J K Rowling, Bryan Adams, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo all getting involved. The England cricket team at the Test match against the West Indies at Lord's all wore yellow ribbons as well to make sure that Madeleine's name kept a high profile. Madeleine's aunt, Philomena McCann lobbied MPs. She had a personal meeting with Gordon Brown, the then chancellor, who offered support on "a practical and a personal level".
In Shannon's case, on Friday 29 February her picture was put up on the screen at half-time during the Carnegie World Cup Challenge between Leeds Rhinos and Melbourne Storm at Elland Road. Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik has been to visit Shannon's mother Karen Matthews and pop star Leona Lewis has donated money and also made an appeal.
The reward offered for information leading to the safe return of Shannon Matthews is £25,000 and is made up of donations from a newspaper, a local company and £500 from Wakefield pensioner Winston Bedford, who is a neighbour of the family. Public donations are estimated to be in their thousands.
At the same two week point in the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the reward for information leading to her safe return stood at £2.6m. Donations came from a range of sources including newspapers Stephen Winyard, Philip Green, Simon Cowell, Coleen McLoughlin, Sir Richard Branson and J K Rowling.
In terms of the police investigation, West Yorkshire police say 10% of the operational force is being dedicated to the task of finding Shannon and will be until she is found. That's 250 uniformed police officers and 60 detectives.
The houses around where she lives are being searched with sniffer dogs and the backgrounds of her extended family and those close to them are being checked by police. In Portugal, around 100 local police and detectives were working on the case in those first few weeks looking for Madeleine.
The families and friends of both Madeleine and Shannon are desperate for good news, that their loved ones are somewhere safe. Both have publicly stated they believe that keeping the girls names high in the media news agenda will mean they are not forgotten and hopefully returned safe home one day.