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Antwan Wilson's first official day as Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS)

Source: The Washington Post / Getty

 

Last Friday, the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser, released a six-point plan to address what had by then become a national story of missing black and brown girls in the district.

The issue was getting so much attention—including an ask for federal help from members of Congress—that the mayor, who said that the plan had been conceived of in January, distributed a broad outline early, 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 she wants to “break the cycle” of young people who go missing – the majority, according to the Metropolitan Police Department, of whom are black and brown girls, a large number of whom “voluntarily” leave home and are not necessarily abducted (which would trigger the ubiquitous Amber Alerts on our phones.)

“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,” says Kevin Harris, the Communications Director to the Mayor.

“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?

The issue was getting so much attention—including an ask for federal help from members of Congress—that the mayor, who said that the plan had been conceived of in January, distributed a broad outline early, 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 she wants to “break the cycle” of young people who go missing – the majority, according to the Metropolitan Police Department, of whom are black and brown girls, a large number of whom “voluntarily” leave home and are not necessarily abducted (which would trigger the ubiquitous Amber Alerts on our phones.)

“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,” says Kevin Harris, the Communications Director to the Mayor.

“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?

And, because the majority of those who leave home are young women, the mayor is specifically looking to support young girls of color and their unique issues and challenges, including sexual exploitation and assault.

In addition to working with and allotting more money to organizations such as the Sasha Bruce Youth Network, the Amara Legal Fund, Fair Girls and Casa Ruby, the mayor also has launched the Reign Initiative, which will work with young women in the D.C. Public Schools to develop leadership skills in young women and to support teachers with training on gender and racial equality within the school curriculum.

The hope is that there will eventually be a sharp decrease in those who run away, and therefore who are reported missing. Harris is confident that the city is on the right track.

D.C. is not unique in the problem [of missing teens] but I do think we’re unique in the solution,” he says. “And the solution that we’re pursuing … is to make sure that young people don’t fall through the cracks.”

SEE ALSO:

Missing DC Girls Highlights Misconceptions About Missing African Americans

Black Women and Girls Under Siege: Will Black Men Join The Fight Against Rape, Abuse?

 

ARTICLE FROM: NewsOne.com

Article Courtesy of NewsOne

Picture Courtesy of The Washington Post, Getty Images, and NewsOne

Video Courtesy of Entertain D.C., YouTube, and NewsOne

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