Children are the heartbeat of the world; the innocence of humanity. Embedded even in journalism ethics, when dealing with minors their name and identify must be protected and concealed. But for children in Washington D.C. it seemed as though their disappearance went under the radar.

What Happened?

On March 23rd, social media was covered with “Find Our Girls” campaign, reporting that over a dozen African American underage girls went missing in D.C. within 1 day. The number was staggering and what was even more strange was there was no context as to why they were missing. It was if all these girls just disappeared into thin air.

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department, posts missing children on their Twitter, but it wasn’t until recently that people actually took notice. Where are these girls?

The media then seemed to hone in on the last 22 cases of missing children this year featuring all minority girls. With racial injustices at peak visibility, people were forced to believe the negligence of big news organizations on the Missing Kids was due to their race or ethnicity. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey said in a letter addressed to the situation on March 21st, that when children of color go missing, authorities will sometimes ignore the possibility of abduction and assume they are runaways.

As more coverage grew over this cause, social media did not however reflect the situation accurately

What Actually Happened

As of 2017, 501 children have gone missing reported the Metropolitan Police Department. Although this number is high, missing children’s cases have plateaued in Washington; with little range, around 2,400 cases yearly, for the past three years.

Social media also wrongly reported that 14 girls were missing in a day's span, which the D.C. police department reported was incorrect as well. Though incorrect claims spread through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it did, however, shed some light on the prevalence of missing persons and, the disproportionate ratio of minority missing kids than any other group.

Reality and Race

So no - 14 girls did not go missing in one day, and most of the missing kid’s cases have seen some resolve. However, why are so many kids going missing in D.C. and why are so many of them black or Latino? One girl that was reported missing came forward with WUSA9 to tell her story. She said she was in fact “never missing” and she was actually running away from mistreatment from her foster parents. The girl, who’s identity is veiled, brought some attention to the possibly tainted foster care system in the area.

Although foster care could be a potential cause for runaways, we must not ignore the possibility of trafficking, kidnap or other heinous crimes that could be the reason for missing people in general. We must also not just focus on the Washington D.C. area, but on our local area as well.

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