The National Black United Front supports the families of missing Black children in the District of Columbia and across the nation. We demand that the local police department and national law enforcement agencies adopt more aggressive strategies to investigate these cases. We demand a larger media presence to increase public awareness about the nature of these events and provide a platform for the families that are affected. Finally, we urge our community leaders to join us in our efforts to promote family safety and educate Black families on protecting their children and preventing further cases of missing persons.
In 2016 37% of all missing persons in the nation were identified as minorities. Black Americans accounted for 36.7% of all cases under age 17, and 26.4% of all adults. In addition, over 18,500 endangered runaways reported to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2016, and one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking. 86% of of these children were in the care of social services when they went missing.
Response of Law Enforcement
According to the Metropolitan Police Department, there have been 549 cases of missing juveniles reported in the city in the year 2017. Of this number, only 18 still remain open. Most of these minors have been found or returned home unharmed, but there is an alarming pattern among their population: several of them were young Black women in their teens. A recent column in the Washington Post explored a number of possibilities for their disappearance – abduction, running away from home, human trafficking, and prostitution. As a community we must work to find the causes of these events and protect children from falling into the same danger in the future.
Media and Public Awareness
We urge the media and the general public to create greater awareness surrounding the disappearance of Black children in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and nationwide. In the case of a missing child, one of the strongest forms of defense is the AMBER alert, which stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. This system is a voluntary partnership between radio broadcasters, transportation agencies, law enforcement agencies, and the wireless industry to interrupt regular programs with urgent bulletins in child abduction cases.
We charge our local media outlets and members of social media to broadcast these alerts as soon as they are created, and circulate all related details in the critical hours immediately following. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are powerful tools in rallying public support for families and assisting the police in locating Black children.
NBUF Plans for the Future
Organizations like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children the Black and Missing Foundation provide resources for families and friends searching for missing children. The also provide instructions on how to report abductions and strategies to avoid these events in the future.
We must take action in our communities to educate families on how to keep our children safe. On April 26th, at 6:30 pm, NBUF will host a Family Safety Training to provide guidance on child protection and the prevention of missing persons cases. This event will be at the Thurgood Marshall Center 1816 12th St. NW, Washington, D.C. and is free and open to the public.
Metropolitan Police Department: https://mpdc.dc.gov/service/current-missing-person-cases
Black and Missing, Inc.: http://www.blackandmissinginc.com/cdad/stats.htm
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://www.missingkids.org/KeyFacts
Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/black-teens-are-reported-missing–and-far-too-few-people-notice/2017/03/14/1956199c-08ee-11e7-93dc-00f9bdd74ed1_story.html?utm_term=.4e31f2df5d73