Amber Alerts

A while back I read an article in the Gainesville Sun discussing the Amber Alert system and the recent cases of missing children in America. The article had some advice which I think was very helpful, and I would like to share it.

First, education is one of the best defenses against child kidnappings. Parents should teach their kids about safety skills; how to use pay phones, how to find help, how to refuse offers, and how to say "No" to any unwelcomed touching or actions by leaving the situation and kicking and screaming if necessary. The article suggested going through “what if” scenarios where parents practice with their children to give them experience, asking them what they would do if they were separated in the mall, or if an adult man approached while they were playing games in an arcade. “Make it non-threatening,” the article said, “don’t make the child afraid. If any of us are afraid, you can’t think clearly.” The child may need to ask help from a stranger, the article mentioned, like another mother, or a sales clerk. In fact, the old adage, don’t talk to strangers isn’t quite so helpful. Most children are taken by friends of the family or people they wouldn’t consider strangers.

As far as what to do as a concerned citizen, the article also mentioned a new system being employed through which notifies cellphone carriers about Amber Alerts in their area free of charge. They hope to create “wireless good samaritans” which I think is a great idea. If you have younger brothers or sisters, consider walking them through some "what if" scenarios and giving them helpful advice. Also, if you have a cellphone, sign up for the free Amber Alerts. You never know when a small act by you could be a huge help to someone else.