The disappearance of 137,000 black children in the U.S. has led to several controversial issues, including over-classification, desensitization, and reward schemes for information that leads to the discovery of a child. Many of these issues are also interconnected, as Natalie Wilson, founder of the Black and Missing organization, points out. This article aims to address some of the most important issues related to missing black children.
137,000 missing black children in America
While black children make up only 14 percent of the under-18 population, they account for nearly one-third of all missing child reports, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. While media coverage of missing children disproportionately targets white children, some believe that authorities are slow to move in cases involving black children. The hope awards honor the efforts of organizations working to save the lives of children of all races and ethnic backgrounds.
The black-owned news organization theGrio released a list of the nation’s 137,000 missing black children. According to the foundation, the figures are actually much higher than the national average due to under-reporting and a lack of resources. Still, the numbers are still alarming. According to the foundation, there are likely many more children in hiding across the United States than you might think. And even the FBI didn’t respond to requests for comment on the issue.
One of these organizations, Black and Missing, was started by Natalie Wilson, a black activist. Her organization has documented the disappearance of a growing number of black girls. In recent months, two black girls have been found alive in landfills: Maleah Davis, four years old, was abducted in May of 2019 in Mississippi and later found dead. The other victim, five-year-old Neveah Lashay Adams, was found dead in an Alabama landfill in August.
In the same month as Relisha’s disappearance, another case was made public: a white mother found murdered in San Francisco was accompanied by two children. The case brought attention to the DC General shelter, but the shelter has since closed. Even though the case is tragic, it has also raised awareness about the children living there. It’s estimated that more than 14% of American children are black. Despite this disparity, it is important to remember that black children make up a substantial percentage of the country’s population and suffer from a high rate of missing children.
Many cases of missing black children in America are classified as runaways by law enforcement agencies. In such cases, no amber alerts are sent and local residents are not notified. Police departments do not devote nearly as much time to these cases as those that are classified as abductions. And despite the fact that they are at a significantly higher risk of sex trafficking, the news does not cover them nearly as much.
This lack of attention to this group is partly due to over-classification and desensitization among the public. As a result, many media organizations receive criticism for under-reporting cases of missing Black children and brown children. While it may be true that there is inherent media bias in reporting on these cases, advocates have worked tirelessly to raise public awareness about the problem. And, as a start, theGrio has compiled a list of all known cases of missing Black children in the U.S.
Unlike missing black boys, the media pays more attention to missing black girls. Missing black girls are more likely to be classified as runaways rather than missing. The focus shifts from public safety to personal responsibility, which may be a sign of human trafficking. The disparity in media coverage is also related to the way people view African Americans. Many people have preconceived ideas about African Americans, including that they are drug addicts, gang members, or live in a high-crime area.
Many police departments mistakenly classify black children and other minority groups as runaways and criminals. Despite these facts, many of these cases have not been reported to law enforcement, which means they do not receive adequate attention. Many families do not even contact the police. As a result, the FBI does not have the resources to investigate these cases. As a result, these numbers are often higher than the actual number.
In an attempt to bring more attention to this under-reported population, the Black and Missing Foundation cites two factors as being responsible for the under-reporting of missing black children: the overclassification of the children and the desensitization of the public to the problem. Using data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, theGrio has compiled a list of the missing Black children in the U.S.
The media coverage surrounding missing Black children contributes to the problem of desensitization. The lack of media coverage and the stigma associated with being black in America’s minority communities makes the public less likely to help find these children. This, in turn, makes the task of finding missing black children more difficult. Luckily, there is a solution to the desensitization. A better approach would be to provide emergency department staff with more training in missing persons cases.
The media’s disproportionate coverage of missing black children is another reason for the desensitization of the public to missing black children. For years, the Natalee Holloway family struggled to obtain local and national coverage, but six months later, the media turned her case into an overnight sensation. In response to this phenomenon, Gwen Ifill coined the phrase “missing white woman syndrome” to describe the unequal coverage of missing white women. In fact, it took the media more than a decade for the media to cover the missing black girls.
Rewards for information leading to a child’s discovery
Two weeks ago, Gov. Kay Ivey offered a $5,000 reward for information that led to the discovery of Cupcake Mckinney, a five-year-old from Alabama. Crime Stoppers, the group that raises money for missing children, followed up a short time later with a $25,000 reward. In August, another five-year-old black girl, Neveah Lashay Adams, was discovered in a landfill in South Carolina. She had been missing for almost a year, and police had been unable to find her.
The news media has been criticized for not giving black children enough attention. While black children comprise about a third of all missing children cases in the FBI database, they account for only about 20 percent of all cases covered by news outlets. This disproportionately affects families that have limited resources and may be unaware of their child’s disappearance. In addition, many families aren’t sure how to proceed when their children go missing.