After national media coverage and an emotional town hall meeting, Muriel E. Bowser, the Mayor of D.C. announced the city will create a series of new initiatives to assist in finding missing children and teens in the district -including a task force.
The Washington Post reports that Bowser will increase the number of officers assigned to find missing children and establish a task force to determine what social services teenagers who run away need. Her plans also include for the district to allocate more money to organizations that work with vulnerable teens. She plans to update a city website to include more information on each missing child.
The mayor’s office is sticking to the notion that the majority of the teens are runaways and aren’t necessarily being kidnapped or abducted, which is why Amber Alerts aren’t being utilized.
“Often times, these girls are repeat runaways,” said Kevin Harris, a spokesman for the mayor. “So if we really want to help solve this problem and bring down the numbers, we have to break the cycle of young people, especially young girls, who repeatedly run away from home.”
D.C. police have stated that the number of teens missing has not increased, but because of their technique of using Twitter to put out the name and photos of “critical” (missing children under age 15 and adults over age 65.) person, the public is more aware.
“This is what the [social media] policy was intended to do,” Harris said. “It was intended to get these teens’ faces out there. It was intended to provoke conversation. We don’t ever want this to become the norm.”