Why not all missing children are issued an AMBER Alert

With all of the latest searches for missing children around the north Alabama area, WHNT News 19 has recieved several questions from viewers via phone call, email, and Facebook about why they didn't get an AMBER Alert notification for certain children.

The chances are that the circumstances did not meet required criteria.

People may think that an AMBER Alert covers all missing children. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

AMBER Alerts are issued in child abduction cases that meet the required criteria. This does not mean that not all of the missing children are serious cases.

The reason for the specific criteria is to keep the public from being desensitized to alerts when they are issued, according to the AMBER Alert website.

Criteria for an AMBER Alert:

  • There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.
  • The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
  • The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger.
  • The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.

Generally, cases are not considered AMBER Alerts because they lack information about the abductor, not the victim.

If you have information about an abduction or missing person, contact local law enforcement or ALEA's Missing and Exploited Children line at (800) 228-7688.

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