By Cecília Pires
AMBER ALERT was created in 1996 as a powerful legacy to a nine-year-old American girl who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, US. Amber Hagerman, a bright little girl disappeared for several days and, finally, appeared brutally murdered. This unexpected reality shocked and outraged her entire community and country.
Residents then called 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 in the nation.
EU should take example
Based on this experience, and considering the rising number of children kidnapped in EU countries, perhaps it is time the EU authorities work together in a new, more effective, early warning system involving all Member States. Adapting the AMBER concept in Europe could prove to be very useful. After all, the main objective of the AMBER system is to recover the children before they face physical harm.
According to the programme, time itself is the enemy of an abducted child, because most children who are kidnapped and later found murdered die within the first three hours after being taken. The AMBER officials believe that when ordinary citizens become the eyes and ears of law enforcement, precious lives can be saved.
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