By Gaetane Borders
Few realize that a child is abducted every forty seconds in the United States, or that 42 percent of these children are African American. Despite these alarming statistics, children of color receive the least amount of media exposure when such heinous crimes occur. Peas In Their Pods was established in March of 2007 by Iowa native, Janice Lowery, to bring awareness about the epidemic rate at which African American children are abducted or endangered. It’s an issue that staff of the organization fight hard each day to change since the lack of exposure negatively impacts the likelihood that these children will successfully and safely be reunited with their loved ones.
The reality is that many people have not heard the stories of Adji Desir, Aleacia Stancil, and Hassani Campbell. Or the stories of Marti Lee Bell, Rebecca Candace Tribble, or Maurice Laron Jefferson. They are children who disappeared without a trace. They are children whose familiy must live each day not knowing where they are, or if they are safe. Sadly, there are hundreds of thousand of families coping with this same issue. Though the circumstances regarding their loved one’s disappearance is different, one commonality that they share is that they are precious and Black.
The first 24 hours after a child goes missing is crucial, and can make all the difference in the outcome. Therefore, the organization works closely with families to guide them through the necessary steps that they should take when their child is missing. The organization is also very active in implementing preventative measures that ensure child safety. This is done through parent and caregiver education seminars, outreach services, and through various media outlets including a weekly radio show and monthly ezine.
In addition, Peas In Their Pods has created an alert method called the RILYA Alert system. The more popular Amber Alert’s criteria do not often seem to be met by missing Black children. While the benefits and value of the Amber Alert are undeniable, the RILYA Alert helps to bridge the gap that exists. This alert system helps reduce the response time in which the crucial information is shared with the public. It was named after a youngster called Rilya Wilson who went missing for over eight months before anyone realized she was gone.
The staff at Peas In Their Pods is asking everyone to visit the organization’s website to view the pictures of missing children. Viewers may recognize a child, and could, perhaps, offer clues that may help solve a crime. Your help is needed because it is everyone’s job to help save our children!
Gaétane F. Borders
President, Peas In Their Pods