Amber Alerts

Amber Hagerman was riding her bike in a parking lot when a man forced her into his pickup truck. She screamed and a bystander called the police. That triggered a massive police search, but Amber was not found. The public was not alerted to the abduction. Amber was found dead five days later in a creek, just four miles from the parking lot. The abductor has never been found.

Diane Simone, a mother herself, was distraught by the tragedy. She called a local radio station with an idea: Why isn’t there an alert for missing children like there is for severe weather? Broadcasters in the area accepted her idea and began issuing Amber alerts, named for Amber Hagerman.

The idea was soon adopted by other states. The idea was to engage the public in looking out for the missing child. Information on the abductor was shared with the public. Alerts were posted on all forms of media.

Seven years later, U.S. Congress passed the PROTECT Act to make the Amber Alert system a national program coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice. Criteria have now been established for triggering an Amber Alert. Over 1,000 children have been recovered by the summer of 2021.

The concept of Amber Alerts has now spread worldwide. A nationwide registry of sex offenders has also been enacted.

Just think about what one mother was able to accomplish with a phone call. Many beginnings result from a modest effort for which there is no expectation for where it will lead. Also, many beginnings have their origin in a tragedy. That was certainly the case with Amber Alerts. And beginnings often result from one person who says: “Why can’t we…”

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            “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” – John F. Kennedy

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