The Washington Metropolitan Police Department has made a regular practice out of posting information on missing children in the D.C. area daily. While the faces of dozens of missing Black and Latina girls filled the Twitter feed, people started to notice the horrifying pattern. 

Public outcry soon followed as everyone from activists, celebrities and many others demanded that police use their resources to find these missing children. There were also suggestions that more would have been done has they been white.

So far in 2017, the Metropolitan Police Department has recorded 501 cases of missing children, according to CNN.

To help combat this, and to quell the public’s anger and caution, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser will use more resources to both find missing children and to provide social services to stabilize homes in the cases of runaways, according to The Washington Post.

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D.C. officials claim that there hasn’t been an increase in the number of missing children, with 2,222 cases in 2014, 2,433 in 2015 and 2,242 in 2016, and insist that the public reaction is simply the result of the cases receiving more attention.

“Often times, these girls are repeat runaways,” said Kevin Harris, a spokesman for the mayor. “So if we really want to help solve this problem and bring down the numbers, we have to break the cycle of young people, especially young girls, who repeatedly run away from home.”

Local police and government officials also appear to be leaning on the defense of claiming that many of the missing children are runaways, as if they weren’t running away from something in the first place or could come into harm after doing so.

“Our frustration is, we deal with a very desensitized public,” Lowery said. “The natural inclination (about a runaway) is the child’s behavioral problem is why they’ve left. We also see significant numbers of runway children who are running away from a situation, whether it’s abuse or neglect or sexual abuse in the home. These children face unique risks when they’re gone so we applaud the conversation and we applaud the attention that this issue is being given.”