On Friday, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced that a task force would be created in order to devote more attention to children who go missing after recent public outcry.
The task force will focus not just on finding the missing children, many of whom are teenage girls, but on determining what social services are needed in order to improve the home lives and situations that these children are often running away from.
“Often times, these girls are repeat runaways,” said Kevin Harris, a spokesman for the mayor, according to the Washington Post. “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.”
While there has been much outcry recently over a perceived spike in missing girls, D.C. police have insisted that it isn’t the case that missing cases are spiking but that police are just using social media more effectively to get the word out, with acting police chief Peter Newsham noting that the department has only recently started tweeting out the name and picture of every case.
Harris said that the new initiatives are possible because of the attention the issue is receiving and suggested that other areas around the country could do the same if they also implemented such a social media policy.
“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.”