We need as much information about the missing as possible

We need as much information about the missing as possible
(File Photo)

By Linda App, Former chairwoman 
of the Alexandria Social Services Advisory Board (2000-2004)
(File Photo)

To the editor:

In its March 30 edition, the Alexandria Times reported on the search for a local man missing since March 7. Police were seeking the public’s help in finding him. Yet the article, published almost two weeks after he was last seen, had no photograph to assist Alexandrians in helping to recognize and locate the man.

Such a case of a missing photograph of the missing person is sadly quite common in both missing adult and missing children cases. A search of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s online data (available at www.missingkids.com) brought up 278 missing children files in Virginia as of a randomly selected date in February. Of that number, 166 did not have an accompanying photograph.

How is that possible, when every schoolchild is photographed for class pictures? When most teens with cell phones have taken and sent selfies? When so many teens have official Virginia identification cards or driver’s licenses?

On that same random February date, the City of Alexandria had 12 missing children files in the center’s system. Six of those 12 (50 percent) did not include a photograph of the child. Most of those files didn’t provide an age either.

Here are a few other statistics about Alexandria’s 12 missing children files from February:
• Six of the children were listed as white/Hispanic, four Asian and two black.
• Eight were female.
• Nine had been missing for more than a month.
• Just two files contained any information about the missing child’s age.
• Six neglected to list either an age or provide a photograph.

Each missing adult and child is a unique case and some may have left home voluntarily only to end up in desperate circumstances. We should assume they all want to be found, and the odds of success would greatly increase if photographs were provided to the media and the public.

The missing must not be forgotten.