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Helena police say rise of social media boosting reporting of missing children

Posted at 9:21 PM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 23:21:30-04

HELENA — Helena police say increased communication with the public through social media and other channels is why more cases of missing children and runaway teens have been reported.

Helena Police Capt. Curt Stinson says Helena sees about an average of 92 missing or runaway teens every year.

In a Facebook post on May 25, the Helena Police Department wrote that there is no real uptick in those cases.

And that when they do receive a case, they use the tools available, like social media outlets, to help find the missing person sooner rather than later.

Stinson told MTN News that though the numbers may have been slightly above average last month, those numbers would include the same teen being reported “missing” or runaway more than once.

“After the whole thing kind of came up, we’ve been using our Facebook page, mostly our Facebook page to do the publicity on those,” Stinson said. “And I’m the one who wrote the response on those. We started getting some of the public comments in there, and it seems to be a lot of them and that, and like said, in that post, too I don’t think there’s a huge increase, but I think it’s the public nature of it.”

Helena police also told MTN they always obtain permission from parents or guardians before posting online or sharing missing and runaway children with the media and will note if there is any connection between the two missing individuals.

Story by Christine Sullivan, MTN News