Saved By A Beep

A new use of relatively old technology is proving successful in finding children who may have been abducted.

When a child is missing, some local police departments are activating the existing public-emergency alert system (the same one that lets you know about severe weather), interrupting radio or TV broadcasts with information. Thus police get immediate access to viewers and listeners across a community in the critical early hours following an abduction. Criteria for using the system include: confirmation of an abduction of a child 16 or younger, the likelihood the abduction could lead to bodily harm, and enough information about the abductor to warrant a community alert.

The AMBER program, which began in Texas and was named after a child abducted and murdered there in 1996, has been picked up by some 20 communities in four other states. It will be promoted this fall by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Association of Broadcasters.

So far, AMBER has helped recover 17 young people - ample proof of its value.

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