(WTXF) - An astounding number of missing juveniles in Washington, D.C.—more than 500 cases—in just a few months. Many of them are black or Latino.
A push on social media is drawing more attention to the issue, but there are questions about whether the new social media push is doing more harm than good.
Since the start of the year, D.C. police has renewed awareness and public interest for missing persons in the district, but the new social media push has incensed and scared the community especially east of the river.
On Wednesday night Mayor Bowser, a Ward 8 council member and the acting police chief all called a meeting to address community concerns that have turned into hysteria.
The reality is the majority of missing children in the district have not been abducted. Many leave on their own accord like Dayana White. She first went missing for a month last year at just 14-years-old. Just yesterday she returned home after disappearing for a week.
Dayana's mother believes her child leaves home because of her family's plight—crammed in a small two bedroom apartment with seven others.
“Some of these kids are runaways, some of them are really missing and if you get on top of it and stop looking at every case as runaway, maybe the problem will be solved faster than what it is,” Dayana’s mother told Fox.
But for Henderson Long, who for two years has canvassed the streets of Ward 7 and 8 searching for those missing, the attention is welcome, but believes this new resurgence of public scrutiny on these cases could be for political gain rather than bringing the missing home.
“Once it blew up in the media we seen people who have absolutely nothing to do with missing people proclaiming to be the face of missing people,” Long said.
Meanwhile D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser introduced a brand new plan to address the problem. It includes increasing the number of officers assigned to the children and family services division, expanding the missing persons webpage and social media message and providing additional grant support to non-profit groups who help runaways.