WASHINGTON — The figure is startling — more than a dozen black and Latina teens have been reported missing in D.C. since March 1.
The apparent jump in the number of missing young people in the District has raised concern in neighborhoods and on social media.
Actually, what’s happening is D.C. police are now acknowledging a continuing problem.
There isn't a spike in missing people in DC, we're just using social media more to help locate them. Sorry to alarm you @__SoulFlower
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) March 9, 2017
In fact, D.C. police sources say there has actually been a decrease in missing persons reports over the last several years.
And, there is no evidence to suggest that the missing children are connected or part of a human trafficking group, police said.
Chanel Dickerson, the new commander of the D.C. police Youth and Family Services Division has made publicizing missing persons cases a priority, both to get the public’s health and to demonstrate the department’s commitment to service for all people.
Several of the young people who were reported missing in March have now returned home, unharmed.
Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, says the effort is a strong first step.
“Getting the information out there is great,” Wilson said. “There’s something clearly going on, and we really have to identify what the issues are.”
“If they’re running away, we need to find out what the underlying issue is, for them leaving the home,” Wilson said. “And we need to find them, because the world is cold out there.”
Teenage girls reported missing in March in the District (who have not already returned safely):
- Juliana Otero, 15
- Jacqueline Lassey, 15
- Yahshaiyah Enoch, 13
- Dashann Trikia Wallace, 15
- Gladys Keitt, 18
- Taliyah Thomas, 12
- Aniya McNeil, 13
- Dayanna White, 15
- Talisha Coles, 16
- Morgan Richardson, 15
The missing teenage boys are: