MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you scroll through the Memphis Police Department’s social media sites daily, you might assume the city was dealing with a dramatic increase in missing children.
In the last three days alone, MPD has posted the flyers of at least 10 children missing in Memphis on its Facebook page. Among them, 15-year-old Markayla Hayes, who has been missing since December 6, 15-year-old Aniah Estrada, who has been missing since December 7, and 14-year-old Zataivyus Jones, who has been missing since December 10. They all appear to be runaways.
That has caused concern for some people of an epidemic in missing kids.
But officials who work with missing children say the number of missing children in Memphis has stayed about the same — the difference is, local police are now promoting the cases more heavily on social media.
“The number of runaways/missing juveniles are pretty consistent,” said Karen Rudolph with MPD. “However we have started sharing them more on our social media platforms to err on the side of caution. The majority of the juveniles are runaways (many habitatual). As you can see, a lot of them are updated with located shortly afterward which has been common for years. “
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children also said the missing children and missing adult reports in the Bluff City are just getting more exposure.
“It is my understanding there is not an increase in cases,” said Christine Barndt with NCMEC. “Memphis police is now posting all missing person flyers to its social media platforms.”
If you see any of the children or adults reported missing, you are urged to call the Missing Persons Bureau at (901)-636-4470 or (901)-545-2677.
If you believe a child is in trouble, you can also call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline at 1-800-THE-LOST.
NCMEC is billed as the nation’s largest and most influential child protection organization.