According to the United States Department of Justice every forty seconds a child is being abducted. This works out to be about 2,000 abductions per day and 800,000 abductions per year. This would be 11.4 children per every 1,000 children being abducted. Seventy-five percent of abductions are committed by males. Sixty-seven percent of these perpetrators are under the age of twenty-nine. Seventy-four percent of children abducted are girls. Seventy-one percent of the kidnappers are strangers to the victims. Eighty percent of abductions occur within a quarter of a mile from where the child lives. Less than sixty of the children are returned to their families alive. Four percent of the children abducted are never found. Seventy-four percent of the children abducted are dead within three hours (Kidnapping Statistics, Kids Fighting Chance). To save children’s lives it is important to get the message out quickly and accurately. The AMBER Alert was created for the purpose of returning missing children to their families. What is the AMBER Alert, what is its purpose and criteria, and what is its effectiveness and concerns?
Amber Hagerman was riding her bike near her Arlington, Texas home on January 13, 1996. The beautiful nine-year-old was abducted in front of her home. The abduction was witnessed by a concerned neighbor and Amber’s brother, Ricky. As the neighbor contacted the police about the kidnapping, Ricky went to tell his parents what had occurred. Amber’s parents could not just sit and wait for information. They knew they had to get the information out to the public. They begin contacting the media and the FBI. Four days later the family received the news that their daughter’s body had been discovered in a storm drainage ditch. The abductor in this case has never been found. Amber’s parents created the organization, People Against Sex Offenders. It was established to force Texas legislature to pass stricter laws to protect children. The United States Legislature took up the cause and passed the Amber Hagerman Child Protection Act. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in October 1996. At a Dallas radio symposium in July 1996, Amber’s father, Richard Hagerman, spoke to the group of the importance of quickly getting the abduction message out to the public. Bruce Seybert, another presenter at the symposium, spoke about the role the media can play in getting the message to the public in a quick and timely manner. A reporter from KRLD approached the Dallas police chief about working together to send out these important messages. This was the beginning of the AMBER Alert. (AMBER Alerts, Wikipedia) At first, the alert was sent manually to local radio stations that participated in the alert program. The Child Alert Foundation created the Alert Notification System in 1998. This system automatically notified communities of abductions. These alerts were sent all at one time. This system followed the procedures of the emergency broadcasting system when there is inclement weather. In October 2001, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) launched a campaign to have the AMBER Alert systems established nationwide. In February 2002, The Federal Communications Commission officially endorsed the system. California established the AMBER Alert system on July 24, 2002 after the kidnapping and murder of Samantha Runnion (AMBER Alert, Wikipedia).
The purpose of the AMBER Alert is to get the information out as quickly as possible to save the life of a child. It is a partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and transportation agencies. When an alert is issued, news bulletins are broadcasted on radio and television networks, as well as, bulletins are posted on billboards along interstate highways. When the alert is activated the entire community and state can begin the search. The AMBER Alert is based on the same concept as a severe weather emergency. The community...
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