Inside: AMBER Alerts have saved nearly 1000 children’s lives, but here’s why some people are mad about them.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the headline: Amber Alert That Located 11-Year-Old’s Alleged Killer Sparks ‘Numerous’ Complaints (VICE News)
What could possibly be controversial about an AMBER Alert?
What’s the big deal about AMBER Alerts?
The AMBER Alert system has been around for over two decades here in the United States, but only recently launched in Canada.
As such, many residents of Ontario were caught off guard by the two province-wide alerts sent at 11:30pm and 12:30am.
Within the first few hours after the alerts went out, there were hundreds of calls made to 911.
But believe it or not, a large portion of those 911 calls weren’t to offer tips, but rather to complain about the alert.
I don’t live in Canada, but I have received tons of AMBER Alerts to my phone — at all hours of the day.
The alert noise is crazy loud and kind of creepy. I get that.
However, I still can’t fathom why anyone could be mad about an AMBER Alert! What the what?!
There is so much going on in our world that is divisive, you’d think that AMBER Alerts would be something we ALL could agree upon.
It made me sad to read otherwise, so I wanted to offer my support of the program.
I support AMBER Alerts because they work
Both fortunately and unfortunately, AMBER Alerts are a regular part of our day here in the U.S.
I say “unfortunately” because anytime an AMBER Alert goes out, that means a child is in danger. However, we are fortunate to have a system for spreading the word and finding those children.
Since the program’s creation in 1996, AMBER Alerts are responsible for the safe rescue of nearly 1000 children in the U.S.
That alone is reason enough to deal with any possible “inconvenience” of a phone alert.
Here’s a look at the exact numbers of AMBER Alert rescues in the United States:
- 934 children have even rescued specifically because of an AMBER Alert
- 53 children have been rescued from a Wireless Emergency Alert
Source: US Department of Justice
One thousand kids rescued is a big deal.
Who knows what would have happened for those kids and their families otherwise?
I support AMBER Alerts because they’re not really an “inconvenience”
Let’s be honest here — your life is not ruined by a loud alert on your phone.
Your life is ruined when your child is kidnapped. Or worse.
Yes, it might scare the crap out of you to be woken from a deep sleep by that eerie chime. Trust me, there have been more than a few early morning alerts that shook me out of a peaceful slumber.
Was I annoyed?
I’ll admit it…a little bit. I like sleep, ok?
Did I get mad and complain?
I read the alert, made sure it didn’t apply to me, then I thanked my lucky stars that I had the luxury of going back to sleep. Because I know that an alert means that there is one family out there who is NOT sleeping.
An AMBER Alert is that family’s lifeline, a bit of hope, and maybe a happy ending. I’d never begrudge them that.
I’d also never begrudge our first responders and emergency workers who are trying to find a missing child as quickly as possible. The first 24-48 hours are the most critical in a missing child situation, so I’m all for any measure to make it happen.
Think about all the spam calls and telemarketers that hit you up on a daily basis. Do you go and call 911 about that?
Didn’t think so.
I support AMBER Alerts so they are there if we need them
My Grandad used to volunteer for K-9 search and rescue, and as kids, my cousins and I used to help him and their team practice.
It felt like an eternity waiting for them to find us in the woods, but I knew that we would be found.
I can’t imagine how scary it would be as a kid to not know if or when you would be rescued.
I can’t imagine as a parent how scary it would be waiting for first responders and volunteers to find your child. If they do, that is.
I pray with all my heart that my family never needs to report a missing child or rely on an AMBER Alert. But I am thankful that this resource is there.
Take a minute to thank YOUR lucky stars too, and have a little grace
Maybe this is a good reminder for all of us to take a minute to reflect in gratitude that we have our families safe with us.
Hopefully it will also be a reminder for when the next alert comes to take a deep breath, and offer up a little grace for our emergency responders who are only trying to save a child’s life.
If it really bugs you that much, you can opt out of AMBER Alerts on your phone here in the U.S.
Apparently right now the AMBER Alert system in Canada goes to all phones, but that might change after this. In the meantime, I hope all my friends in the north will be patient while the new system works out its kinks.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be hugging my kids a little tighter tonight. And making sure my alerts are on.