Jonah Bennett, DCNF
The number of missing teenagers has declined in Washington, D.C., but Mayor Muriel Bowser launched a new effort to combat the issue Friday evening, in an effort to tamper down on the hysteria that has consumed social media.
A press release from the mayor’s office listed six initiatives dedicating more city resources to supporting children thinking of leaving home, given that the issue has become not only a local concern, but a national one.
“One missing young person, is one too many, and these new initiatives will help us do more to find and protect young people, particularly young girls of color, across our city,” said Bowser. “Through social media, we have been able to highlight this problem and bring awareness to open cases, and now we are doing more to ensure that families and children are receiving the wraparound services they need to keep families together and children safe.”
The first initiative is designed to put more police officers on the Children and Family Services Division.
The second initiative is to take more care in messaging practices on social media.
The third is an attempt to find out why youth left home in the first place to see if those problems can be solved.
The other three initiatives concern grants, messaging and development of protocols.
Hysteria about missing girls kicked off after the Metropolitan Police Department began more aggressively posting cases to social media, which gave the impression of a stunning and dramatic increase of missing girls in D.C. This led to the creation of several viral graphics alleging that 14 black girls had disappeared a single day, a claim that was repeated by black celebrities and rappers on social media. Some social media users also forwarded the theory that human trafficking was behind the disappearance of black girls.
Both claims, according to police, are totally false, but that has not assuaged the worries of the black community, prompting members of Congress to write a letter to the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation, asking them to identify if the recent cases of missing girls are indicative of a serious problem, or rather an anomaly.
Police say that not a single case of a missing child in 2017 was due to either human or sex trafficking.
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