WASHINGTON - If you're active on social media, particularly twitter you may have noticed an increase in post about missing kids in D.C.
There’s a reason for that. There is brand new police commander in charge of the cases. Chanel Dickerson took over as commander of the DC Police Youth and Family division five weeks ago. She was shocked at the number of missing girls in the city. At one point this month there were 15 active cases at one time.
“Are you running away from something? Or to something? So were just making sure that we follow up and we have to make sure that any other criminal activity is not taking place. And then what other resources their family needs,” explained Dickerson.
Many of them seem to be part of a revolving door of runaways, but Dickerson is vowing to treat each and every case with the same attention. And it doesn't stop once a child is found.
When it comes to criminal activity, one fear is sex trafficking. Although there are no solid indications in the current open cases but with so many children going missing it is a concern.
The founder of Courtney's house which aims to rescue children forced into prostitution says it continues to be a problem in D.C. She has seen a steady flow over the past few years.
“We get about four to five a week, and that's on top of what we already have. That my mean that they are in juvenile or their parent is looking for them and they called us beforehand. Where the referral came from police or probation case managers. So I think the more awareness that were actually having means were getting more referrals and people are actually starting to identify. But the most important part of all of this is that survivors actually call themselves and bring their friends as well,” said founder of Courtney’s House, Tina Frundt.
Frundt says sex trafficking is hard to track, and it even happens sometimes happens families and we need to be realistic about what's going on.
“And I think it’s really about the words we use Sex trafficker, right? People put pimp and trafficking in two different categories, but they actually legally are the same thing,” Frundt explained.
“I just want to create some program and get assistance from the community to try and engage this population to let them know they're valuable to the community and respect their bodies and their mind,” said Dickerson.
Commander Dickerson has made it her goal to make sure each missing child's photo is repeatedly posted on social media, and to figure out what is going on case by case, create awareness and bring this alarming number of missing children down.
Dickerson says often girls missing just a day or two have been with friends or family. She urges adults not to allow children to stay with them without a parent knowing about it.
If you would like to help, Commander Dickerson and her efforts to slash these numbers contact the DC Police Youth and Family Services Division.