D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is pulling all the stops to locate the dozens of missing Black and brown girls in her district.
Just a week after the mayor released a six-point plan to address traumatic case, which reportedly had been conceived of in January, Bowser distributed a broad outline of the plan, including more than half a million dollars in grant support for organizations that work with teens at risk, as well as the launch of a website which will eventually update those missing cases in real time.
The mayor says her goal is to “break the cycle” of young people who go missing, which according to reports is majority black and brown girls in the metro area. Kevin Harris, the Communications Director to the Mayor, stated, “What the mayor wants to do is put more resources both inside and outside of the government … so that these children are getting the individualized attention that they need to hopefully address these problems. What we know is that in order to get to the root causes of this problem, we have to be able to quickly locate them before they are harmed or fall prey to any danger. The second part is addressing why is it that they left home in the first place. Was it abuse? Is it maybe mental illness? Is there no food or heat in the home?”
Harris added that the “overwhelming majority” of cases are repeat runaways, which can still lead to danger, saying, “You know that if a young person is out on the street constantly and they are not in the care of a guardian, they are more susceptible to [sexual assault and/or trafficking]. So let’s intervene now. That’s what we are trying to do.”
Mayor Bowser is hopeful that with her plan, there will eventually be a sharp decrease in those who run away, and therefore who are reported missing. Kevin Harris is confident that the city is on the right track.