Recent reporting from various media outlets has indicated that several hundred young women and girls have gone missing from the Washington, DC, area. Sex trafficking rings and modern-day slavery are nothing new; but the social media-led reporting of an influx of young minority girls that have gone missing has caught the attention of several advocacy groups.

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The Associated Press reports, “the District of Columbia logged 501 cases of missing juveniles, many of them black or Latino, in the first three months of this year, twenty-two were unsolved as of March 22, 2017.” It is unknown why social media accusations went viral, causing a wave of advocacy groups to call for action for young minorities to be found..

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Facts about sex trafficking

Groups like the Free Though Project—a “hub for free thinking conversations about the promotion of liberty and government accountability”—disseminate reporting on #Sex Trafficking. As the Free Thought Project pointed out on several occasions, some of these traffickers have already been caught in D.C. — and some of them have been cops.

  • Since 2007, the National #Human Trafficking Hotline, has received reports of 22,191 sex trafficking cases inside the United States.
  • In 2016, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims.
  • The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.5 million people globally that are trapped in the sex trade/slave industry globally.

Despite recent accusations and national data, the Metropolitan Police are insisting that “the number of cases of missing children in D.C.

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is actually decreasing, rather than increasing.”

Social media reports

Social media forums such as Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram are laden with pictures and reports of missing young black and Latina teens. Statistically, minority and impoverished young women are at higher risk for abduction or perpetuation into the sex slave industry.

Officials indicated that several of the missing teens had left home voluntarily and were staying with other adults. No further information detailed the surrounding circumstances of those situations: are they with family, older boyfriends/girlfriends, or stuck in situations that they can’t get out of? Are they safe?

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Facts and reality

The fact is that abductions are on the decline; this still does not change the fact that people’s children are missing and that a great deal of them are minority girls. Cell phones and the media are surely calling attention to this phenomenon since most Americans spend a great deal on their devices.

Some reporting agencies have taken to data, rather than social media posts to analyze this situation. 2014 reporting indicated that, “462 of the 708 teens were reported missing, 95% of them have returned home, 37% have not been located—and ALL 37% are Black or Latina.”

Officials are not ruling out the fact that there are in fact missing teens, they are just reiterating that there are not massive numbers or random large increases in cases. Sex trafficking is a major global issue that requires more than the just the attention of our social media accounts.