The alarming number of missing Black youth in Buffalo and across the country demands attention and action. Black youths’ lives depend on it. These are our babies, siblings, niblings, grandchildren, cousins, friends and neighbors. Whether youth are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, experiencing homelessness or living in unstable conditions, trying to escape family conflict, or are being targeted for human trafficking, those who care for them have been sounding the alarm.
According to data from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children between 2016-2020 Black children were disproportionately represented among children who were reported missing.
Black Children Aged 18 Years or Younger Make Up:
Children Reported Missing
Community leaders and organizers have been working to increase public awareness and address the epidemic of Black missing children in New York State for years. This is not a new problem, but it is one that our current institutions continue to fail to adequately address.
It Starts with Listening
Voice Organizers have been engaging in one-on-one conversations and conducting listening sessions with community and those directly impacted by the crisis. One session was organized for the youth, another for mothers and mother figures, and another for the fathers and father figures.
One key takeaway from these conversations was the desire to to bring an alert system to New York State that is tailored to our local needs and will address the crisis of missing Black and Brown children and young adults.
Through the drafting, passing, and implementation of legislation similar to California's Ebony Alert, Voice organizers are committed to working with community to establish a system that is reflective of New York State’s needs with the goal of:
Decreasing the rate of missing Black children;
Updating the criteria for what qualifies as as a missing child;
Increasing the rate of solved cases of missing Black children;
Creating capacity and increasing resources for local organizations working to address the crisis of missing Black youth like Bury the Violence.
Organizers of Voice Buffalo are on a mission to better the relationship between parents and their children so they don’t go missing.
Dontaya sits down with some of our young people to discuss how they feel about the number of Black and Brown youth going missing, the rise of youth violence, and what they think are some solutions for our city.