When black children go missing, they do not receive as much news coverage as their white counterparts. Why isn’t this breaking news? Over the years, news media outlets have often criticized not giving missing black children the news coverage needed. News coverage profoundly affects solving these cases, and minority children are grossly underrepresented in missing children’s statistical data. News coverage is especially critical because black families lack the financial resources needed to conduct a proper search and recovery efforts. Black families typically do not have the financial resources to take an extended leave from work to conduct a search, pay for private investigators, and do not have access to the resources available to help recover their missing children. Many news media organizations receive major criticism over the underreporting stats of missing black and brown children. This is just another example of the disparities that exist between black families and their white counterparts.
According to CNN.com, about 14% of US children are black, but black kids account for more than a third of missing child cases. Black families are often hesitant to call the police to report their children missing because of the tense relationship between law enforcement and the black community. When black families attempt to report their missing children, they are misclassified as runaways or criminals. The local law enforcement agencies do not provide amber alerts when black children are classified as runaways, unlike their missing white counterparts. Since black families are not contacting the authorities, their cases are often unknown or unresolved. “There’s a sense of distrust between law enforcement and the minority community,” said Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation.
Most recently, the US Marshals Missing Child Unit found 39 missing children in Georgia, ranging from 3 to 17 years of age. These children were likely victims of persons arrested for sex trafficking, parental kidnapping, registered sex offender violations, and custodial interference. The US Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, along with the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and Georgia state and local agencies, worked together to rescue these endangered missing children. Even though these law enforcement groups and rescue organizations were involved, this story barely made the headlines. The common denominator in this large-scale recovery effort included missing black children who are often forgotten.
In 2008, Derrica N. Wilson and Natalie Wilson founded the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc (BAMDI). The organization’s mission is to bring awareness to missing persons of color, provide valuable resources to families, and educate the minority community on personal safety. These two ladies combined years of law enforcement and public relations experience to create a non-profit organization to initiate a public awareness campaign to help minority families find and recover missing persons. According to this organization, black children under 18 years old make up 37% of the missing children population; hence, they are more males than females. The Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. uses resources, including print, television, and social media, to help underserved minority families locate their missing loved ones. The Black and Missing Foundation’s founders encourage families to report their missing children as soon as possible. It is best to start the search immediately before evidence is lost or destroyed by external/environmental changes. The first 48 hours are the most critical while conducting a missing child/person search. In more recent times, children are being lured away for sex or human trafficking. The most vulnerable groups are black children in foster care and the teen homeless population for various reasons. Since the inception of this organization, they have successfully recovered over 200 missing people and provided closure to several families.
Let us help each other by reporting and vigilantly sharing information about missing black children and teens. Some experts suggest having open discussions with other our children, family, and fellow community members on this important subject. Parents are also encouraged to monitor their children’s social media activity, email accounts, text messages, and video game participants. Next, take notice of changes in your child’s routine, school grades, mood, activities, and circle of friends. Finally, if your child goes missing, contact the police immediately, call local news outlets, share on social media platforms, and reach out to the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc for help.
Check out the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc website for more information and resources at www.bamfi.org or #helpusfindus.