D.C. Missing Teen Shares Her Story In The Midst Of Viral Posts With Incorrect Information

D.C. Missing Teen Shares Her Story In The Midst Of Viral Posts With Incorrect Information

Why it's important to get the facts right if you really want to help runaways.

Published March 25, 2017

A public outcry for media publicity for a swath of black women in Washington D.C. that went missing began recently found itself a little misguided because of timing.

True, there are a large amount women that have gone missing in the nation’s capital, and they’re disproportionately African-American. However, some didn’t go missing within the past few weeks. Actually, some have been missing for years.

The confusion came when D.C. police started publicizing missing person fliers on Twitter. They reportedly posted 20 missing person fliers since March 19, with 10 of them being minors. This gave the impression that people were going missing much faster than normal. In reality, law enforcement had changed their practices in hopes of finding missing people quicker. The rate of people missing in the area has actually decreased this year.

“We’ve just been posting them on social media more often,” Rachel Reid, a DC Metro Police Department spokesperson, told NBC Washington.

The reality is though, black women do go missing at a higher rate than most other groups. A D.C. teen who was reported missing told her story to WUSA9 recently. She said she decided to run away because of the treatment she was receiving at home.

“I left because I felt like my foster mother was mistreating me,” the girl, who decided to remain anonymous, said. "My friend texted me and said I was on TV and she sent me a screenshot of the missing person flyer, and then people were texting me videos of them crying."

This had the teen reuniting with her foster family. It really shed light on the troubles of being a foster child and the victim of a life they never picked out for themselves. The young women says her mom was a drug addict and that she was raised by her grandmother until she died. That’s when she began bouncing around trying to find any stability.

NBC Washington says that 501 children have went missing in 2017 with all but 22 cases being solved. Between 2012 and 2016, officials claim that 99 percent of missing person cases have been closed.

The outcry for media attention on missing women wasn’t misguided, however the facts of their disappearance weren’t vetted as they should’ve been. The women weren’t kidnapped, some went missing over the past few years, and some weren’t even from the D.C. area.

NY Daily News writer Shaun King put it best, via Twitter.

“Dear People Advocating for Missing Black Girls, Please be sure you are spreading the truth and actual facts. It matters. It really matters.” He himself wrote a piece about the girls.

Below, check out some of the fallout and follow-up about the D.C. missing girls.

Written by Paul Meara

(Photo: Metropolitan Police Department)

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