In response to an erroneous social media post about missing teens in her city, which provoked a public outcry, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced six new initiatives to address the very real problems facing young teenagers in the nation’s capital. “One missing young person, is one too many, and these new initiatives will help us do more to find and protect young people, particularly young girls of color, across our city,” said the mayor at a press conference Saturday, as reported by WDCW.
An Instagram post last week claimed 14 black girls had disappeared in Washington D.C. over a 24-hour period. The post quickly went viral, even being shared via social media by such celebrities as actress Taraji P. Henson, rapper LL Cool J and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey urging them to look into the matter. The post, fortunately, was not true.
According to Washington D.C. police, their new policy of sharing information about missing teens on social media created a false impression of an abduction epidemic in the city. According to NBC 4 Washington, Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Rachel Reid says there’s been no increase in the number of missing persons in their jurisdiction, "We've just been posting them on social media more often." At the same time, the incident has provoked a frank discussion about the problems facing black and Latino teens, and their lack of coverage in traditional media sources.
To address these problems, Mayor Muriel Bowser initiatives include such measures as increasing the number of police officers assigned to the Youth and Family Services Division, and creating support groups for runaways and the families of missing children. Rather then dismiss the issues raised by the social media furor, the mayor’s office has said it is glad the issue is now in the public eye, and that it can now move forward to address the underlying problems.
[Photo: NBC 4 Washington]