Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Kylie. Kylie Wonders, “When someone's missing why is it called an amber alert” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Kylie!
Has a child ever been abducted in the area where you live? If so, you may have heard about it while watching television or listening to the radio. When such unfortunate events occur, word is often spread via special news bulletins known as AMBER Alerts.
AMBER Alerts got their start in 1996 as a special joint effort between local law enforcement agencies and broadcasters in Dallas, Texas. Their efforts were spurred by the kidnapping of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman from Arlington, Texas.
Law enforcement officials believed that alerting the public to abducted children as quickly as possible would result in their safe return in many cases. With the help of thousands of people in the general public, law enforcement professionals would be able to follow up on reported sightings quickly, hopefully minimizing any potential harm to the children involved.
Other communities and states quickly followed suit, developing their own AMBER Alert programs. Today, AMBER stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. In some areas, they're also known as Child Abduction Emergencies (CAE).
The AMBER Alert program has developed into a nationwide network of cooperating law enforcement agencies and broadcasters. In addition to television and radio stations, AMBER Alerts are also sent out via electronic highway signs, text messages to mobile phones, digital billboards, the Emergency Alert System, NOAA Weather Radio, and a wide variety of Internet search engines and websites.
When a child is abducted and authorities are notified, an abduction that meets AMBER Alert criteria can be broadcast to millions of people within a matter of minutes. AMBER Alerts effectively widen the scope of people searching for a missing child from a few hundred law enforcement personnel to potentially millions of people within the general public.
To date, there have been over 800 children rescued thanks to AMBER Alerts. Law enforcement officials have noticed that merely issuing an AMBER Alert has resulted in the immediate release of a child in several cases.
To avoid misuse of the system, certain criteria must be met before an AMBER Alert will be issued. Criteria can vary by state, but in general, the case must involve the abduction of a child 17 years or younger who is believed to be in imminent danger of serious harm or death. In addition, there must be enough descriptive information available to allow authorities to issue an effective AMBER Alert.