ANTIOCH, Calif. (KRON) — A missing 12-year-old girl from Antioch has been found safe, according to Antioch police. She is just the latest young person reported missing. 

If it seems like there has been an increase in reports of missing girls, an expert in the field says that it is not your imagination. There appears to have been an increase in reports of missing girls in Northern California. 

“I think the media and police are seeing more because they are now paying more attention,” said Jennifer Lyles, executive director of Misssey.

Specifically, they are paying more attention to missing Black and brown youths. That is one of the factors in an increase in reports of missing girls, according to Lyles, the executive director of Misssey, an Oakland based nonprofit organization that specializes in helping young people that are at-risk or experiencing sexual exploitation. 

Lyles says Black youths make up about 5% of the population nationwide but represent over 30% of the youths that go missing.

Lyles explains the reason, “that they are kidnapped and taken in such great numbers, is because the perpetrators know that nobody is going to look for them, and they have said as much. So, we’re seeing these major manhunts for these other young women but not our girls, and that’s a problem.”

 Another factor she says in the increase of missing young people is the COVID-19 pandemic, Lyles explains.

“During the pandemic we saw an increase,” Lyles said. “ What’s happening with exploitation is there is an increase in need. We saw an increase in homelessness, poverty. Folks didn’t have food. They didn’t have resources. So, there was an exploitation of youth. With an increase in exploitation, there is an increase in kidnapping of youth. sequestering of youth and the trafficking of youth.”

 She says while some girls are found safe, others remain missing or worse.

 “We see at least three or four missing youths a month,” she explains. “ Some of them don’t come home. They show up dead.”