Report: Black kids account for 61% of missing youth in Ohio

The Dayton Daily News reports that Black youth make up only 15-16% of Ohio's population, yet 61% of the state's missing kids are Black.

Data provided by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office revealed that 61% of missing people who were under the age of 18 when they vanished in that state are African American.

The figures were collected and studied by The Dayton Daily News, which found that as of February 2022, more than 800 Ohio youth are missing. Of those came the astonishing statistic that 61% are Black, yet Black youth comprise only 15-16% of the state’s population.

As of February 2022, more than 800 Ohio youth are missing. Of those, 61% are Black, yet Black youth only comprise 15-16% of the state’s population. (Photo: AdobeStock)

According to the report, the majority of the missing children are considered runaways, and most return home. However, those who don’t are much more vulnerable and may encounter real danger while on the street — more likely to experience exploitation and violence, and susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse.

Natalie Wilson, the co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation Inc., told The Daily News the term “runaway” is often loaded and may mean that police departments devote fewer resources to recover missing youth classified in this way.

“It has a trickle-down effect: If you are classified as a runaway, you do not receive an Amber Alert … and we know awareness is key to finding a missing person,” Wilson said. “The perception is the child is getting whatever they deserve because they left home voluntarily.”

Most Ohio youth reported missing are found within a matter of days or even hours, the report found. Still, authorities told the newspaper that they treat every missing child as if they could be in danger. They also said that they use a system of evaluating each case that includes factors such as the child’s age, medical needs, developmental status, whether they are dependent on drugs and known to be with adults endangering their well-being.

Furthermore, the report cites The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s ongoing research that found that as of 2018, Black children were still disproportionately represented in foster care, making up 23% of the national total but only 14% of the total child population.

Ohio law enforcement agencies submitted about 16,330 missing children reports in 2020, according to The Dayton Daily News, and more than 97% of those children were returned home safely by year’s end. However, nearly 450 remain missing.

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