Police, Facebook join forces to find missing kids
The South African Police Service (Saps) yesterday launched the first Amber Alert programme in Southern Africa, in a country where up to 200 children are reported missing each day.
Together with Facebook, the police hope to find more than the 15% they estimate they find and stop parents and guardians’ nightmares. An Amber Alert is a missing child emergency alert, which works by the distribution of messages through Facebook, which will allow the community to participate in the search for the missing child.
According to amberalert.ojp. gov, the Amber Alert System “began in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children”.
“Amber stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and was created as a legacy to nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered,” the site stated.
National police commissioner Khehla Sitole said police and Facebook were “implementing a strong partnership which will assist in improving vulnerable communities”.
“It was therefore regarded as more than encouraging when the operations manager from Facebook head office approached the Saps through Crime Stop in 2019 to offer support,” said Sitole.
“Our country is equally traumatised by acts perpetrated against women and children. This initiative is going to be the instrument to combat gender-based violence,” Sitole said.
“It takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a village to protect one. Today the village of people protecting South Africa has been strengthened by this initiative,” said Emily Vacher, director of trust and safety at Facebook in New York .
“Starting today, if an Amber Alert is issued by the Saps, Facebook will request information about the missing child such as the name of the child, age, height, weight, photo and where the child was last seen or any information which could assist. The Amber Alert will then be posted directly to Facebook users who are in the geographical area where the child had last been seen,” said Vacher.
“This is only for children who are below the age of 18.”
Since September last year, according to amberalert.ojp.gov, 967 children had been successfully recovered through Amber Alert.
“South Africa cares about missing children, and this initiative will be a testimony for Facebook,” said Vacher.
PARTNERSHIP. Director of trust and safety at Facebook Emily Vacher with national police commissioner Khehla Sitole yesterday launched Amber Alert, which will tackle issues of missing children.