In the past month, there has been a spread of interest regarding missing children, especially children of color, in the United States. In Washington D.C, citizens of the city have been crying injustice after a large amount of black teen girls have gone missing in the past month, with around 501 missing children cases (of all races) being reported since the beginning of 2017.
D.C has a history of issues involving sex trafficking, causing many people to believe the missing girls have been kidnapped and forced into prostitution. However, the police have assured people that they do not believe the current situation is a case of human trafficking.
However, regardless of whether the teenagers are going missing because of human trafficking or are running away, many students at Wilkes agree that the media has still not given enough attention to the problem.
Harry Gothreau, a senior political science major, was dismayed by the radio silence on the issue from major news publications.
“I think the media is definitely not talking about this enough,” he said. “I watch a lot of news, and I don’t know anything about it.”
Many students at Wilkes were not even aware human trafficking was an issue in the United States. Andrew Severino, a first year Environmental Engineering student, was one of them.
“I have heard of human trafficking in other countries, but I did not know it was a pressing issue here, this year, right now.”
Samantha Trobe, a freshman political science major, on the other hand, had heard of human trafficking in the United States, but had not heard of the current possible issues in Washington.
“I know people from South America come to America for better lives, but unfortunately they get involved with people like the Cartel who promise them a brighter future, only to instead force them into sex trafficking.”
In the past, human traffickers have latched themselves onto children and teenagers with low socioeconomic statuses. Amy Kulp, a freshman mathematics major, took notice of this, despite not being aware of the current pressing issues.
“[Human traffickers] take people who they think others won’t notice, or care, if they are missing.”
Although there is still the opinion that the girls have run away rather than that they were kidnapped, many still believe the lack of public recognition is an issue.
Dr. Andrew Wilczak, assistant professor of sociology at Wilkes, disagrees with the conspiracy aspect of the issue, citing “Pizzagate,” which was a widespread belief that the Clinton administration had a sex trafficking ring run out of the D.C. Comet Ping Pong pizza chain that led to a public shooting. However, Wilczak does agree there has been a lack of police involvement.
“In the past few years, many black girls have gone missing, so many people’s response to the current issues have been along the lines of ‘What are you getting all angry about? This happens every year,’” said Wilczak. “If this was 15 young white girls, the city would shut down and the federal government would be involved.”
Wilczak, like many other faculty and students of Wilkes, was concerned and shocked by the events, and hopes that the missing children will be found soon.