Po­lice, Face­book join forces to find miss­ing kids

The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Sonri Naidoo

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.

Pic­ture: Tracy Lee Stark

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.