The America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) alert is an early warning system to help retrieve missing children. It acts as a legacy to Amber Hagerman, a nine-year old child from Arlington, TX. who was kidnapped and brutally murdered.
Initiating an AMBER alert allows broadcasters and other media to inform the public with information about the missing child. The broadcast includes a description of the child and any information about the person, automobile, or anything else that people may have witnessed.
If your child is missing, contact the police immediately. They are trained to ask the right questions, and are calm. They have information about prior abductions that have occurred in surrounding communities. For example, you may have seen your child give directions to a man walking on your street. This innocent behavior may be the method he uses to befriend a child. He may walk by the next time, asks the child to walk a little bit with him and then force her into a car. The police will ask you questions about things you thought were not important or may have forgotten.
Adhere to the following tips. They may prevent abductions.
Talk to your children: Know their friends. Learn their activities. Do you know what your children do after school? Is their "after-school hangout" safe?
What is a safe after-school environment? Consider the following.
* What is the age group of the patrons? Do you feel at ease if your child is fifteen and most of the patrons are eighteen or older?
* Do you recognize any of the patrons? Are they your child’s friends? Are they from your neighborhood?
* Are all the employees teenagers? Are there any adult employees?
* Are there adult patrons? Do you feel that it is strange that adults would frequent this type of place?
Become a detective: If your child hangs out at a video arcade, make sure you check it out. Make your visits on the same days that your children frequent the arcade and note who is there. What type of people are the patrons?
Your town or city hall posts pictures and addresses of registered sex offenders that live in your community. Become familiar with their faces and addresses. Child sex offenders frequent places occupied by children. Buy your children and yourself cell phones with digital cameras. If you or your child sees an adult that resembles a sex offender or makes them feel uncomfortable, it is easy to surreptitiously take their picture. Show the police the photo. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Does the arcade meet your standards of safety?
- Is the business in a safe community?
- Does your child have to travel through any unsavory communities to get there or to return home?
- Is public transportation available if your child feels suddenly feels uncomfortable?
- Is there an adult or security guard for your child to talk to if he or she has a problem?
- Does your child’s cell phone work in that location?
Ask questions: Learn what your child likes and fears. Is there a person that he or she feels uncomfortable with? Is this person an employee at the arcade, convenience store, school, or community center? Their friends may tell them to ignore that person, or that they are being a baby. However, he or she may be ignoring a possible threat.
Develop trust: Let your children know that you are available to them when they need to talk. Define a strategy that your child follows in an uncomfortable situation. For example, tell them to call you or a designated adult that will pick them up immediately. Teach your child it is o.k. to ask for help.
Create boundaries: Map your child’s activities and the locations that he or she can visit. This kind of structure will help you to know where your child is at all times and help your child know where he or she can be safe.
Be cyber savvy: Learn whom your child talks to when they use the Internet and the sites they visit. Know the people behind the user names that your children chat with. Set boundaries for the sites that your children can visit and with whom they can chat.