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Although African Americans make up just 12 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.

NewsOne has partnered with the Black and Missing Foundation to focus on the crisis of missing African Americans.

To be a part of the solution, NewsOne will profile missing persons  and provide tips about how to keep your loved ones safe and what to do if someone goes missing.

Five days after she went missing, Baltimore investigators on Monday found an autistic Baltimore high school sophomore physically unharmed in a Prince Georges County apartment complex, police say.

The search began almost immediately after Kennedi Simone High,16, a student at Western High School, failed to return home last week after class. Her mother, Brandi Stallings, told Baltimore police the behavior was “highly unusual” and out of character for her daughter, whom she describes as a high-functioning autistic person who tends to view the world and individuals in a positive light.

With my daughter and her autism it doesn’t register that there are things that are dangerous,” Stallings, 40, an employee of the federal government, told NewsOne in an interview. “She looks at the world as a perfect utopia. I share things with her, but in her mind nothing [bad] will happen.”

Knowing this about her daughter, Stallings took steps to protect her from online predators. She took away her daughter’s cell phone and moved the computer from the basement to the living room where she could closely monitor her daughter’s Internet usage.

But Kennedi still found a way to access an unnamed online app by borrowing her friend’s cell phone, police say.

“I know Kennedi’s mom has done a lot to control the atmosphere that Kennedi is in, where she didn’t even have a cell phone. But I will urge parents again to be nosy. Be nosy, try to know what your child is doing. Try to learn as much as you can about dating apps. This stuff moves faster than any of us can ever speak on. I can’t keep up with all these dating apps,” said Smith.

I don’t even know if her friend knew she was using the app,” said Stallings. But someone online apparently had connected with Kennedi, Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith said.

One of the things that we do know is that she might have met someone on a dating app. We’ve talked a number of times the danger in dating apps. And there are unique dangers, not just for young people, not for just children, but for everyone,” Smith said at a press conference announcing that Kennedi had been found.

It appears she went voluntarily with someone, but might not have known the magnitude or scope of what she might have been getting herself into,” he said. “It appears she might have met some people on a dating app which led to her voluntarily going somewhere.”

Smith said the circumstances of Kennedi’s disappearance are even more shocking because of the steps Stallings took to protect her daughter.

“I know Kennedi’s mom has done a lot to control the atmosphere that Kennedi is in, where she didn’t even have a cell phone. But I will urge parents again to be nosy. Be nosy, try to know what your child is doing. Try to learn as much as you can about dating apps. This stuff moves faster than any of us can ever speak on. I can’t keep up with all these dating apps,” said Smith.

Law enforcement authorities have warned adults about the dangers of their children using apps such as Snapchat, where images and messages disappear but are easily recoverable, and Kik, which allows users to post without much identifying information.

People who have nefarious reasons to be on these apps will be on these apps,” said Smith.

Natalie Wilson, co-founder and chief operating officer of the Black and Missing Foundation, said incidences like Kennedi’s are all too common.

One out of every five kids gets sexual solicitations online,” said Wilson citing a recent study, The role of Technology in Youth Harassment Victimization (pdf), from the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

The bottom line to keeping kids safe online is communications. Discuss what he or she is doing online and why. Also, check the browser history to know where your child goes when online and check those sites regularly,” Wilson added.

The bottom line to keeping kids safe online is communications. Discuss what he or she is doing online and why. Also, check the browser history to know where your child goes when online and check those sites regularly,” Wilson added.

Stallings says she was shocked when she learned her daughter frequented online dating sites.

I was devastated. I didn’t know about these accounts. I had confiscated the electronics,” Stallings said. “Parents have to be conscious because kids will be very savvy in getting access to electronics.”

Smith said the investigation into Kennedi’s disappearance is still active, noting police do not yet have a suspect in custody.

But police are still seeking information to determine just what happened to the teen. “We still believe that because of Kennedi’s condition she could certainly have been taken advantage of,” Smith said.

Stallings said her daughter is emotionally shaken and that she’s giving her the time and space to talk about the ordeal. The mother is lining up a therapist for her daughter and working with officials at her school to ensure a smooth transition back to her daily activities.

I did not think I was ever going to see my daughter again,” Stallings said. “I just managed to sleep last night because so many things were going through my mind of what my child was going through. I could not sleep, eat or function because a piece of me was missing.”

SEE ALSO:

Search Continues For Colorado Black Teen Who Vanished From Bus Stop

Jerome Easter Jr.’s Case Highlights Challenges Of Finding Missing With Mental Illness

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