Public Awareness about Child Safety

The history of the AMBER Alert System.

BLOG POST | May 12, 2016

This afternoon, May 12th, suddenly a pop-up message shows up on my phone. It said that I need to pay attention to certain vehicle number and give a call to 911 if is see something. Again, another pop-up message show on my Facebook feed, it shows that a 7 years old girl disappear either lost or being kidnapped.  So what is Amber Alert?

 

The Michigan Amber Alert plan is a partnership between law enforcement and the media to help in the immediate dissemination of information to the public about an endangered missing child. This program is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry.

The AMBER Alert System began in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. AMBER stood for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and was created as a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered. Other states and communities soon set up their own AMBER plans as the idea was adopted across the nation.

 

Once law enforcement has determined that a child has been abducted and the abduction meets AMBER Alert criteria, law enforcement notifies broadcasters and state transportation officials. AMBER Alerts interrupt regular programming and are broadcast on radio and television and DOT highway signs. AMBER Alerts can also be re-disseminated through the lottery, digital billboards, Internet Ad exchanges, Internet Service Providers, Internet search engines, as well as wireless devices such as mobile phones.

For my undergraduate degree, I researched child kidnapping, Indonesia has a high number of child kidnapping, some of the cases are really shocking because it happens in a public place like a mall, hospital, school or their own home. Unfortunately, not many of them return safely to their home; it is because only half of the kidnappers were asking for money. The other half are people who are looking for a kid to exploit and use these kids as a money seeker on the street. They teach these kids to become a singer, sell something or simply asking money from people, and the most disgusting thing is sometimes they kidnap a kid to get their body organ and sell it on the black market.  From my interview with police officers back in Indonesia, the crime prevention is always more important. The police actively promote public awareness related child safety because not many people that really care about this. People tend to think that its only parent's responsibility to keep their kids safe, which is true at some point, but society who no longer care about public safety especially child safety, what else could you expect from that kind of society?  

After 48 hours, the chances of getting kids back are decreasing. This is the thing that US government realizes so that they create this system to have public awareness of what had happened. Amber alert is a really useful tool as of December 23, 2015; there have been 800 children rescued and returned specifically because of AMBER Alert.

AMBER Alerts also serve as deterrents to those who would prey upon our children. AMBER Alert cases have shown that some perpetrators release the abducted child after hearing the AMBER Alert.

 

Amber Alert is a great example of how government actively involved protecting people. It also shows good coordination between law enforcement, public, and media. I hope at some point. I will have this in Indonesia instead just pop up message from operator promoting their new ringtone. And I really hope that Mr. Jokowi (my beloved president) has heard about this program or at least the chief of Indonesian National police *FingerCross.


ICMA Blog


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