How DC’s missing black girls drew awareness to a deeper issue
Last week, I saw an influx of missing black girls on my social media timelines. Everyday, there were images of missing girls and people ripping down fake flyers for “fast and easy” money opportunities, and it all seemed to be in the Washington, D.C. area, where I have friends and family.
After looking into it, I saw the viral posts stating that 14 black girls went missing within a 24 hour span, all in Washington, D.C. My shock came in the form of questions.
Why is this happening? Where are the investigations? Why isn’t this national news? Who else is at risk?
The post that went viral overnight turned out not to be true. Police said that most of the girls are runaways. However, more than 500 minors have gone missing in Washington, D.C. during the first three months of 2017 alone.
That’s an eye opening number, but Washington, D.C. historically has high numbers of missing children, and in comparison, the number is lower than previous years. Black Congress members are now calling for the Department of Justice to help the police with the investigation. There has been no response from Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the DOJ, but President Donald Trump has “assured caucus members… that he would make his Cabinet secretaries available to them.”
Even though the original post was false, it did bring light to more problems that need to be addressed. It does so in a way that analyzes the root of why things happen instead of the symptoms of them.
The first problem was addressed by Washington, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham, who said we “need to be aware that we do have that many kids that go missing in our city, and it’s been that way for a long time.” With this information becoming more aware and with the Capitol right there to help, this can now become a priority.
The second problem concerns who is readily affected — black girls — and why Washington, D.C. has high runaway rates that correlate with the parent dynamic in the home. Ninety percent of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes, 67 percent of black families live in a single-parent household, and the Washington, D.C. population is 52 percent female and 47 percent black.
Also, key risk factors of being young, being in poverty, being female and running away from home all put black women at a disproportionate risk of having this runaway situation spiral into a bigger human trafficking problem.
All of these factors work as a whole to create the issues at hand. But there’s still unanswered questions.
I don’t know why young black girls are being targeted. Maybe it has something to do with the history of the omnipresent abuse that black women face.
I don’t why this increase happened now. Maybe it’s because of the social climate, and the perpetrators thought it would go under the radar.
I don’t know who else is at risk. I hope all of the unheard victims also get their voices discovered and return home safely.
Opinion columnist Dana Jones is a print journalism junior and can be reached [email protected]