#FindOurGirls and then what?

Over the past two weeks, many have witnessed the internet outcry to #FindOurGirls (a hashtag started on Twitter in lieu of poor media coverage).  More than two dozen girls went missing in the D.C. area in mid-March. The news first broke on Twitter, where people became outraged (rightfully so) about the lack of media coverage on the missing teens. People began to speak out on what they felt was racial bias when it came to media coverage on the missing group of black and latinx teens. With at least 10 girls reported missing over a 24 hour span, surely it would be breaking news, right? At this time the Metropolitan Police Department has closed a majority of these cases (meaning they have located the missing person), but there is still an issue.

As much as this was a crisis, statistics show that this is very much an ongoing problem. In D.C. the  number of missing juvenile cases has been consistent over the past few years. Each year the nation’s capital averages over 2,000 cases according to annual statistics, and just one case should be considered too many.  According to the Metropolitan Police Department, there has been a total of 869 missing persons cases already this year with 566 being juveniles. Human trafficking is a major concern in the city because of the evidence of its presence, but there are a variety of reasons an individual might go missing. Children are running away, being abducted, possibly trafficked, and no one seems to bat an eye because the stats are “normal”.  

So I ask, #FindOurGirls and then what?  What preventative measures are being taken? 

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has introduced six new initiatives she hopes will help find missing girls in the city. Amongst those are increasing the number of officers assigned to missing persons cases, identifying how they can assist runaway teens, and funding more organizations geared towards at-risk youth. D.C. officials hope to combat the core issues in the community in order to decrease the amount of missing persons cases. According to the HuffingtonPost article, police are aware of the issue of racial bias that has been placed on them. Commander Chanel Dickerson spoke on the perception of missing black and latinx children in the area. “...Prevailing narratives that these missing children are just runaways leads to less sympathy and media coverage for them when they are reported as missing," Dickerson said. She believes that increased publicity and the new initiatives will rewrite this narrative and help bring more missing children home.