Although African Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 37 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database under the age of 18 and 26 percent above the age of 18. 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.
Case Type: Endangered
Date of Birth: Jan. 1, 2003
Missing Date: Mar 18, 2017
Age Now: 14
Missing City: Washington
Missing State: DC
Case Number: 17-044457
Hair Color: Black
Hair Length: Medium
Eye Color: Brown
Wear Glasses or Contacts: No
Location Last Seen: 4000 Block of 6th Street, SE around 9:30PM
Circumstances of Disappearance: Shaniah was listed among the young women in the erroneous social media post that 14 black and Latina girls had gone missing in D.C. over a 24 hour period.
The post set the Internet ablaze and led the Congressional Black Caucus to call for an FBI investigation. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has now promised more resources will be dedicated to the problem.
Even though the post was incorrect, it highlighted a longstanding problem about blacks and other minorities not getting the media and law enforcement attention they deserve when they go missing.
Shaniah might have been one of those cases.
The teen left her house at 4:30 pm, saying she was “going outside,” according to the missing persons report provided to NewsOne by the Metropolitan Police Department. She never returned home.
Shaniah’s family has no idea where she might have gone off to. According to the report, Shania has gone missing before.
“We cannot comment any further out of concern for the individual’s privacy,” Rachel Reid, an MPD spokeswoman told NewsOne.
Natalie Wilson, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the Black and Missing Foundation, said she could not speak directly to Shaniah’s case but the circumstances are the kind that make getting coverage and law enforcement attention difficult.
“If a child is thought to be a runaway or thought to have gone missing previously, normally they don’t get any type of media attention. People turn a blind because the thinking is this person left voluntarily so why should we waste resources,” said Wilson.
But that type of thinking is dangerous.
“If a child is a chronic runaway, why are they running away? What are they running away to? What is going on that a child left their home. Are they in some type of danger?” Wilson asked. “We may not immediately know all the underlying issues but we want to get all of our children off the street before the situation becomes volatile. Many kids who run off are vulnerable to becoming victims of sex trafficking.”
MPD has recently begun using social media to focus more attention on critical missing persons cases and Shania was the beneficiary of that new policy. She is listed as a critical missing person.
“We have no indication that these individuals are being kidnapped or snatched off the street. These are individuals leaving home voluntarily. Some of them are located with non-custodial family members, or with friends, or they return on their own,” MPD spokeswoman Margarita Mikhaylova told NewsOne in explaining the new policy.
“Our concern is to find them as soon as possible, and ensure their safety. Because we want to protect individual privacy, we do not publicize the specific circumstances of their return. Be assured, that were we of the belief that any criminal activity had taken place against these individuals, we would aggressively seek to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Mikhaylova added
Reid said the investigation into what happened to Shaniah remains active because “our records indicate she’s still missing.”
Last Seen Wearing: Unknown.
Identifying Marks or Characteristics: Unknown.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts or circumstances of disappearance for Shaniah Boyd may contact MPD’s Command Information Center at (202) 727-9099 or the Youth and Family Services Division at (202) 576-6768. Confidential tips may also be submitted to the Black and Missing Foundation’s Tip Line.