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When a child is abducted, the sooner he or she is found, the better are the odds of this child being returned unharmed. Time is critical.


Facts & Stats:

  • 44% of abducted children are murdered within the first hour;

  • 74% in the first three;

  • 1% survive more than a day;

  • 40% were dead before they were reported missing.


Source: Case Management for Missing Children Homicide Investigation USA 1997


The first hours that a child goes missing are chaotic. Emotions are high. How an agencies first responder reacts or approaches these situations is critical to support a safe return.

Program Description

America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Plan is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies and broadcasters to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases. Broadcasters use an Emergency Alert System (EAS) to air the description of an abducted child and suspected abductor. The goal of AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search and safe return of the child.


The Origin of the AMBER Alert Program


The AMBER Plan was created in 1996 when 9 year old Amber Hagerman who was kidnapped and brutally murdered while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas.

The tragedy shocked and outraged the entire community. Residents contacted radio stations in the Dallas area and suggested they broadcast special "alerts" over the airwaves so that they could help prevent such incidents in the future.

In response to the community's concern for the safety of local children, the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Radio Managers teamed up with local law enforcement agencies in northern Texas and developed this innovative early warning system to help find abducted children. Statistics show that, when abducted, a child's greatest enemy is time.


The Amber Alert Plan


The AMBER Alert Plan is a voluntary, cooperative program between law-enforcement agencies and local broadcasters to send an emergency alert to the public when a child has been abducted and it is believed that the child's life is in grave danger.

The primary goal of the AMBER Alert plan is to call upon the entire community to assist in the search for the child and suspect.


What happens when an AMBER Alert is activated?


Cooperation between law enforcement agencies and media is essential when an AMBER alert is activated. The alert is initiated by a law enforcement agency that sends the information to participating radio and television stations. The radio and television stations then interrupt programming to broadcast information about the missing child using an Emergency Alert System.


Benefits of the AMBER Alert Program


The AMBER Alert program helps law enforcement agencies and the public at large, to help save children who might be in grave danger. Some of the benefits include:

  • Providing law enforcement with a strategy to respond quickly and efficiently to serious child abductions;
  • Broadcasters and Police provide a proactive way to help protect their community's children;
  • Increasing law enforcement's ability to locate witnesses and help resolve cases more quickly.

Copyright 2005 Child Safety Research & Innovation Center. All Rights Reserved.