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Misinformation Sparked #DCMissingGirls Outrage, But It Highlights Real And Overlooked Issues

Flickr/Franco Folini

Last month, the outcry from concerned parents and citizens about the number of missing teenage girls in and around Washington, D.C. sparked national outrage. The conversation was prompted by the dozens of missing persons alerts with pictures of black and brown teenage girls shared on social media over a short period of time.

There were theories and fears that the girls were being preyed upon by human traffickers. The hashtag #MissingDCGirls trended on Twitter; celebrities and politicians weighed in, and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a task force that will increase the number of police officers assigned to work missing persons cases, among other things. It turns out, that, according to the DC Metropolitan Police Department, the actual number of missing children has decreased over the last two years.  

Department officials say that 2,242 children were reported missing last year, down from 2,433 in 2015. And while some of the missing persons alerts shared on social media were real cases, police say many of them were runaways who were later found and reunited with their guardians.
But the question remains, why is the number of missing children so high and why are so many of them black and brown? Nationally, about 35 percent of missing children are black, and roughly 20 percent are Latino. Why are so many children of color disproportionately represented among the missing, and when they leave the care of their guardians, for whatever reason, what dangers do these children and teens face? 

Tom speaks with Natalie Wilson, co-founder and CEO of the Black and Missing Foundation.

Then Tom is joined by Tina Frundt. She's the founder of Courtney's House, a non-profit drop-in center that works with young people who have survived trafficking. Tina is a trafficking survivor. In December 2015, Tina was named to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking by President Obama. Tina is also a member of the Washington, D.C. Anti-Trafficking Task Force, and Prince George's County Human Trafficking Task Force. 

Also joining: Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, a human trafficking expert and author of a forthcoming book, Hidden in Plain Sight: America's Slaves of the New Millennium. That book is slated to be published in October 2017. 


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Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Bridget no longer works for Midday at WYPR.