NORTHRIDGE, CA – An article alleging that 14 African American teen girls disappeared from D.C. within 24-hours made social media users push for more effective search tactics.
#FindOurGirls and #MissingDCGirls started going viral on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook on Thursday. Celebrities and public figures also hashtagged posts to bring attention to the issue.
AP reported since the start of 2017 the police department received more than 500 teens are missing in the D.C. area. When children of color go missing authorities assume they ran away, and on Wednesday only 22 cases were open for investigation.
Washington Metropolitan Police Department’s new Youth and Family Division commander, Chanel Dickerson said that the number of missing young girls is going down. She says there isn’t any evidence of the numbers going down and there also isn’t any evidence if there is a prevalent sex trafficking issue in D.C. Last year, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that one of six reported runaways in the U.S. were likely sex trafficking victims.
Some council members and neighbors wondered why there were not any amber alerts or immediate attention created after a 10-year-old African American girl went missing. Some families affected believe if the girls were Caucasian there would have been amber alerts and national media coverage. Some social media users say if the girls were Caucasian they may have even already been found.
Last week Metro police started to post critical missing person cases on Twitter to spread more awareness and bring the girls home. They managed to post 22 and half of them were teens and children. Six of them returned home Sunday, but five are still missing.
Police are investigating leads and asking anyone who sees the girls or notice unusual behavior to call them. The community thinks the longer the girls are missing the harder it would be to find them.
By Lauren Turner Dunn
Contributions from CNN, ABC, Polaris, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Photos, Shaun King, Instagram, and Madamenoire