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How to Write a Report on a Kidnapping
Writing a report on kidnapping is similar to writing a report on any other topic, whether you're writing the document for school or your workplace. However, a report on kidnapping poses a unique challenge. It requires the writer to present the facts of an emotionally charged topic while still maintaining an informative, authoritative and unbiased voice. Writing a report on kidnapping requires brainstorming, research, composing, revising, editing and, often, the inclusion of visual aids and appendices.
List why you are writing the report, your audience and how the report will be used. These components are part of the report's rhetorical situation and, according to the Purdue On-line Writing Lab, "understanding the rhetorical situation can help contribute to strong, audience-focused, and organized writing." Are you a police officer who was asked to prepare the report for a safety in-service at a preschool? Are you a college student who has to write a report on any topic for a composition class, and you chose kidnapping? These situations greatly change what you would include in your report and how you would structure that report.
Based on the list above, brainstorm questions that you will need to answer for your report to be effective. For instance, you might write: "How can I stay safe from kidnapping?" or "How many people are kidnapped each year?" or "What is the average age of a kidnapping victim?" Remember to ask questions that will satisfy the needs of your audience, as well as the purpose of the report.
Begin your research by answering the question from the steps above. Take notes as you research, making sure to attribute the source of each fact for citation later. As you research, you will likely come up with more questions to answer. Jot them down, along with the answers you find, as you continue to research.
Create an outline of your report that shows the report's major points, minor sub points, and how it will be ordered. This is your working outline, which you can change as you write and revise.
Adopt a voice appropriate for a report on kidnapping by relying heavily on facts and research but making it clear that you understand the gravity of the topic. In other words, it is important that you write in a voice that is neither overly emotional or hard-hearted. Including a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research (hard, verifiable facts, as well as anecdotes or quotes from victims or police) is one way to achieve this tone.
Include visual aids when they help clarify your information. For instance, pictures of famous kidnappers might stir the memory of your audience, who will likely remember the case from the news. Charts and graphs make raw data, especially statistics, more tangible.
Include only relevant information. It is not necessary to include everything that you found in your research, but make sure to include all information that is important to satisfying your audience's interests and needs.
Revising and Editing
Ask someone else to read your report, particularly someone who will understand the rhetorical situation (i.e. a colleague, a classmate.) Ask this person to point out any areas of confusion and to briefly summarize the report. Revise confusing areas and parts where the report says something other than what you were intending.
Read the report through the eyes of the audience, the teacher of your class or the community foundation getting the report, for instance. Think of any questions or concerns that audience would have and revise your report to eliminate them.
Check for grammar, spelling and citation mistakes.
Make your report more interesting and significant to its audience by using both local and national or international resources. Interview a local police officer, neighborhood watch organization or Crime Stoppers group for local, expert insight into your topic. If you have large reports (like police reports, newspaper articles, etc.) that would be useful to the audience but that would slow down their reading, you can include them in an appendix.
Because it is highly based on research, a report on kidnapping that uses unreliable sources is an unreliable report. An unreliable source is one that is likely to be biased or untrue. Most people see websites like Wikipedia, sites with the sole purpose to sell, and question and answer sites (like Yahoo Answers) as unreliable.
Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.