Social Media Put The Spotlight On Missing D.C. Girls

Darren Hauck/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Thankfully, the missing D.C. girls have been dominating the news the past few days. First, word spread via Instagram and Twitter Thursday that 14 girls had disappeared in the prior 24 hours. After that, members of the Congressional Black Caucus called on the Department of Justice for an investigation into what has gone down. So: What happened to the missing D.C. girls? They finally gained the attention they deserved on social media, sparking a national conversation about the plight of missing black children — and, hopefully, an investigation to find them.

What actually happened to each of the missing girls is what police are trying to figure out, and it likely depends on each case. What they have in common is the social media shoutout from the Washington D.C. metro police. According to NBC 4 of Washington, the police have shared 22 missing people's information on Twitter, with the hope of finding them since since March 19. Of those 22, half were children. Of the 11 children, six have been found and five were still missing as of Sunday.

Even one, of course, would be too many. But there have not been 14 in any one-day period. And the total number of missing children has been decreasing. The only change has been the attention that D.C. police have given to the cases, above all on Twitter.

Why there hasn't been more attention in the past — especially via featured like Amber Alerts — has some politicians worried, especially since many of those missing are minorities.

DC City Councilmember Trayon White spoke with CNN Headline News that she is concerned about a double standard. "What the community is alarmed about — we had a 10-year-old girl missing the other day, but there was no amber alert." White told HLN. "We just feel like, you know, if this was a white person or from another neighborhood, there would be more alarm about it."

Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana wrote in his letter that the FBI needs to get involved to solve the problem. "Whether these recent disappearances are an anomaly or signals of underlying trends, it is essential that the Department of Justice and the FBI use all of the tools at their disposal to help local officials investigate these events, and return these children to their parents as soon as possible," he wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Associated Press reported.

D.C. Commander Chanel Dickerson tried to allay both concerns at a news conference. "The goal of MPD [the Metropolitan Police Department] is to reunite any missing person in the District of Columbia with their loved ones quickly. We felt social media was the tool to meet that goal," Dickerson said. "I say this: without minimizing the number of missing persons in D.C., because one missing person is one person too many, but there's actually been a decrease."

As for the lack of Amber Alerts, Dickerson explained that is a nationwide program that is only used when "a juvenile has been abducted or kidnapped and are in imminent danger." She said that none of these cases fit that description.

What is great, though, is that this attention may help reunite more of these girls with their families.