Missing 16-year-old Durham girl found safe, Thanks to the power of Social Media
Gratitude post. Our daughter was found safe within 36 hrs. from the time she went missing. Please share far and wide. We need at least 30K shares so it reaches every single person that helped out.
I want to show infinite gratitude and appreciation to everyone who helped in ensuring our daughter was returned home safely. I want to specifically thank our families who were respectful and supportive in the moments of crisis. I also want to thank my close friends who were my rock and helped me navigate all the range of emotions and stuck by my side throughout this nightmare. I want to thank the Durham County Sheriff’s office for taking our daughter's safety seriously and for opening up a case within an hour of her being reported missing. I want to especially thank my employer and her whole family for their unconditional support, action and friendship. I also want to thank Jordan High School’s Principal, all the teachers that reached out to us by phone, email and text as well as all the students who were actively searching and constantly surveilling social media, radio and TV for us. We want to thank the Physician Moms Group (PMG) and every PMG subgroup and all the individual PMGs who gathered up all their resources to ensure our child was returned to safety. I also want to thank WRAL TV for taking the story seriously as well. I want to especially thank all the people who organized meals and dropped off snacks and groceries at our door, I never knew how much of a difference this very small gesture made in allowing us to concentrate all our energy into searching for our daughter. I want to mention so many but I want the rest of this post to be about information and education.
First I want to let everyone know that I have extensive background and field work in Human trafficking prevention. One of the big lessons to be learned from this is that having the background, the experience and the knowledge does not fully protect our kids from being victims of predators. Our daughter herself is an avid advocate against human trafficking and prevention. Her education and knowledge are not lacking. I also want to relay that being extremely intelligent and well-rounded does not protect our children from predators. There are extensive social experiments out there, demonstrating that children of low, average and high level intellect are equally vulnerable to luring tactics. If you have time, go to YouTube and search for social experiments of children and ice cream trucks. The children are very well educated about the consequences of going inside the ice cream truck and inadvertently they are put in the situation and they end up going inside the ice cream truck. There are other social experiments with Adolescents and they end up getting inside the white van and their parents inside the white unmarked van are astonished that the teen actually entered the van and put themselves in danger. Children and Adolescents cannot be relied on themselves for their own safety. They need to be kept safe from the outside. By their village.
The village. One of the reasons our daughter was vulnerable and went missing is because we are new in town and had not built a village yet. She was spotted walking by herself in our neighborhood and adjacent areas 5 times between 1:30 am and 5:00 am, and because people didn’t know who she was, nobody was alerted that she could be in potential danger. Had she been known to be part of our neighborhood or our community, the level of concern from the people that spotted her would have been different. Once the word got out and people in the community accepted her as one of their own, their memories were triggered and they were calling in all the sightings, 8-10 hrs. too late. However they were still helpful as we were able to track her steps and timeline.
The timeline. I realize now that most people are not aware that there is a 48 hr. window to find a missing child. This does not change with age, whether the child was abducted or a runaway or whether they are being trafficked. Statistically this has been shown to be universally true. There is always hope to find a child after 48 hrs. but chances are significantly decreased. There are many reasons for this. One of them is that children and adolescents can get dehydrated easily, hurt easily and are prone to accidents. Their stamina decreases significantly after 48 hrs. and they become vulnerable to weather conditions, heat, cold, insect and snake bites, etc. Another reason is that the farther away from their community the child is taken/going, the harder it is to coordinate efforts to recover the child. Again, this does not change whether the child is abducted or a runaway. We noticed our daughter was missing when we woke up at 6:44 am. I knew something was wrong because she did not take her phone with her and it was still charging. She also did not tell us where she was going. I noticed her wallet and ID was missing immediately. By 7:30 am I was out searching for her and put a Facebook post. By 8:30 the police were at our home. The police works based off this timeline and many parents who were able to recover their missing child within 48 hrs. reached out to me to alert me to this. I knew this but I wasn’t aware that the public did not know this information. It is a shame that in some states a child has to be missing for 24 hrs. for a case to be open. Please check your local law enforcement and take steps to make sure this gets changed everywhere.
Parental control. Unfortunately our society holds deep rooted prejudice and intolerance for normal adolescent behaviors. Adolescents are still children. Their brains are immature and vulnerable. Our daughter is a profoundly gifted child with exceptional people skills and she is genuinely more intelligent than most people, including most adults like her dad and I. Because of this she struggles with the concept of being wrong about anything, because let’s face it, she can do quantum physics better than me, then how is it that logically I can know more about life than her? There are many ways in which a child can fall prey and victim of scams, groomers and human traffickers. We have always kept close communication and control of her social media and have been hypervigilant of potential predators, and we have been wrong many times, when a friend we thought was someone with a false identity turns out to be a normal teen like her with normal parents. Because of this the Adolescent might get the idea that parents are being overzealous and exaggerated. We as parents have to continue to familiarize ourselves with terms like catfishing and grooming, and also become social media savvy. We took complete control of her social media when she went missing thanks to the fact that we were savvy and sought support from people who were well versed on social media sites that adolescents frequent.
Social. Media. Big village. It is a well-known fact that a missing child is more likely to be found the larger the community that is looking for the child. I immediately reached out to social media, even before I reached out to law enforcement. I am fortunate to have over 60,000 Facebook sisters through the “Physician Moms Group” Facebook community. I also have a strong network of Facebook friends as well as Friends who have even stronger networks than me. We are also reached out to our local community social media sites of Next Door, and Fairfield Community Yahoo groups. All of a sudden one of their own was missing and it became everyone’s business to find her. They in turn shared in the Local Facebook groups and their Instagram and Tweeter. People found their social media connections and her post was shared on the pages of Celebrities like George Takei, HONY, and Ellen.
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