In a bizarre and still unexplained but dreadful development, a metropolitan area in Northern Ohio is experiencing a de facto epidemic of missing children, with more than 1,000 kids disappearing so far this year – and it remains unknown if most were kidnapped, trafficked, or ran away from home.
The epidemic of disappearing children has hit the Cleveland-Akron area in Northeast Ohio, and it particularly intensified in May of this year, reports reveal.
50 Kids Gone in September Alone
As a result, nearly 50 children went missing in September alone in the said section of the Greater Cleveland Metropolitan Area, a region of over 1 million people.
Another 35 minors disappeared in Cleveland-Akron in August, as per data from a website on missing children operated by the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
Surge Spiked in May
A notable surge of underage individuals vanishing from their families in Northeast Ohio became even more pronounced after almost 30 kids were gone in the area over the first two weeks of May, according to The Sun’s report from early June.
Back then, Ohio officials declared that there had been an “extraordinary” surge in the number of cases of children going missing.
Yet, Ohio’s Attorney General, Dave Yost, told News 5 Cleveland that the numbers may actually be inflated.
He still called it “alarming” but pointed out that there could be problems with updating reports on “repeated runaways,” which could increase the actual number of missing children. He noted that the Cleveland police have previously acknowledged the existence of such issues.
“Of course, we are worried about that,” the Ohio attorney general stated.
“Now, what we know is when we look behind the numbers, some of those represent repeated runaways, and local police have talked about that,” he added.
In his words, there are instances in which a shortage of police staff in the state has resulted in incorrect data on child runaways, abductions, or sex trafficking.
“All of these things have localized reporting problems that, again, are a function of local conditions,” Yost said.
He elaborated that his office had been working to boost “compliance,” but it was still forced to work with the data coming from “local partners.”
“I am fearful of all kinds of things that fall through the cracks, that include missing children,” Ohio’s top justice office said.
Relying on ‘Worried Parents’
He underscored that he deemed the role of parents in missing children cases far more significant than that of police clerks.
“I rely on the tenacity of a worried parent more than I do a harried bureaucrat whose job it is to put data into a computer,” the state attorney general emphasized.
In the same line of thinking, he also disclosed that his office and other Ohio authorities had been collaborating with the University of Toledo on a “data collection reporting system” that would help find missing kids.
“We rely on the people, the population because we have 11.7 million pairs of eyes out there that can keep an eye out,” Yost said, arguing the police could not “see everything… everywhere.”
Gone ‘for Some Reason’
The problem with missing children in the Ohio-Akron area seems severe indeed, according to John Majoy, the police chief of Newburgh Heights, a town of 2,000 people in Cuyahoga County.
Majoy, who also leads a group called “Cleveland Missing,” stated that there had been many more instances of disappearing children than usual this year – “for some reason.”
“[This] is troubling in part because we don’t know what’s going on with some of these kids — whether they’re being trafficked or involved in gang activity or drugs,” the police chief told Fox News in May.
‘Never Been This Many’
He noted he had never seen that many child disappearances in his 33 years on the force.
Majoy did admit that most of the cases in question were probably kids running away from home rather than kidnappings – but he cautioned that teenagers could be instead trusting of “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” i.e., s*xual predators and other types of criminals.
Missing after House Party
The report enumerates recent cases of children who vanished in Northeast Ohio:
15-year-old Keshaun Williams went missing on June 15 after going to a house party; 17-year-old Camryn Nicole Golias disappeared in Akron in early September; 14-year-old Gideon Hefner was last seen in American Township on September 12; 17-year-old Teonnah Thompkins vanished in Cincinnati in mid-September; another 17-year-old, Iyahna Graham was last seen on September 23 in North Canton; 16-year-old Elijah Hill disappeared in Sandusky on September 20; three more teens – Chloe Hadley, 17, Honesty Howell, 16, and 14-year-old Maurice Hamrick went missing over five days in September.
Parents Take Initiative
The Post stresses that the appalling problem of disappearing juveniles in Northeast Ohio has led alarmed parents to launch their initiatives to find them.
Breana Brown, who created a group called Join Us in Minors Protection, told News 5 Cleveland the community had to do more, including prioritizing the issue.
“We have so many missing children; we want to prevent this from happening, so we need to buckle down. This is not a matter we should take lightly, not at all,” Brown insisted.
What about the FBI?
Reports of more than 1,000 teens going missing in the Cleveland-Akron area have made many social media users wonder why the FBI isn’t stepping in to tackle the issue or how it hadn’t received much greater publicity.
“‘This is unacceptable. What is going on in Ohio with 1000 missing children, and why isn’t the FBI doing something?’” wondered an X user called “GeneralTM,” sharing a link to a News Nation video report on the matter.
“‘Why is this kept so quiet? Who doesn’t want us to know this is going on?’” asked a user called HDavidson.
Foster Children Victims
“‘Most of these children are fosters that nobody truly thinks twice about, and they’re easy to make disappear.’”
“‘Ya, where the hell are they, and what are they doing? Even if runaways they need to take this seriously. What if it was one of theirs?’” asked a user named Marilyn.
It seems that the causes of the mystery child missing pandemic in Northeast Ohio are yet to be established – but that won’t happen without all responsible actors decisively stepping up their efforts to that end.
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This article was produced by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.