Missing Children Get Help: AMBER Alerts on Facebook
January 19, 2011 6:12 PM
States across the country are teaming up with Facebook to help find missing children.
AMBER Alerts are now being posted on the popular social networking site.
Your friends are on Facebook and now law enforcement is logging in too.
"Any time you have a child that goes missing for whatever reason, the more resources you can pull in, the more you can contact people, the better chance you have of contacting that child," said Officer Sam Clemens with the Sioux Falls Police Department.
Nearly 800,000 children are reported missing every year but just a fraction of those cases warrant an Amber Alert. If an alert is issued, a notice will also be put on Facebook.
"The number of AMBER alerts isn't important," said Clemens. "It's the fact that we have a system set up in case we need it."
"I don't really see a downside, whatever gets the word out and gets folks looking," said Sioux Falls resident Ruth Krueger.
There are just 1,236 people signed up to get notices on the South Dakota AMBER Alert Facebook page, but with just a click of a button, you can "like" the page and get a notice anytime someone is put on the list.
"People monitor different things throughout their day, if people are checking Facebook and that's where they are going to get their infomration then it's a good thing," said Clemens.
If a child goes missing, Facebook may be the last thing on a parent's mind, but it's where others may turn to first.
"I'm a parent, if something happened to my child, I would want the quickest response, the quickest information out there. Facebook is a good way," said Sioux Falls resident Les McLarty.
So the social networking site made famous for bringing friends together, is now being put to work to bring missing kids home quicker.
Facebook is working with the Justice Department and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
This partnership marks the 15th anniversary of the kidnapping and death of Amber Hagerman, a 9 year old girl from Texas, who the alerts were named after.