A Rapid Emergency Child Alert System is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement, media, transportation agencies, and others who work together to disseminate urgent bulletins about missing children.
The goal is to instantly galvanize an entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of a missing child. The system provides detailed information on the child and suspected abductor, including photos when available, and the circumstances of the child’s disappearance.
The first such system, known as AMBER Alert, grew out of the heartbreak experienced by the community of Arlington, Texas. In 1996, nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was riding her bicycle when a neighbor heard her scream. The neighbor saw a man pull Amber off her bike, throw her into the front seat of his pickup truck, and drive away quickly. The neighbor called police and provided a description of the suspect and his vehicle. Arlington Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation immediately began searching for the suspect and his vehicle. Local radio and television stations covered the story during their regular newscasts. Despite this effort, Amber’s body was found four days later in a drainage ditch. Shocked, Arlington began looking for a way to prevent future abductions. Community members reached out to TV and radio stations, and in 1997 together they created AMBER Alert. By 2005, all 50 U.S. states had AMBER Alert Plans in place.
The success of AMBER Alert in the United States has inspired the creation of similar programs around the world. Since 2007, we have served as an international point-of-contact, providing technical assistance to countries for the development of Rapid Emergency Child Alert Systems. Since 2016, we have partnered with Facebook to assist in spreading AMBER Alerts on its social media platform.
In addition to the United States, Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan (Province of China), the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom have an emergency child abduction alert system in place.