Ten years after the Amber missing child alerts began in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the system has been adopted in all 50 states. In some, it is being used for reasons beyond its original purpose of helping find children abducted by strangers, reports the Associated Press. Ohio, Texas and other states have opened Amber Alert to include abductions by noncustodial parents or family members if the child is in immediate danger of injury or death. Some law enforcement officials are concerned that Amber Alerts will be overused and therefore become less effective.”You don’t want to be in a position where you get Amber fatigue where people say, ‘It never ends, another Amber Alert,’ and they tune out,” said Tela Mange of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“When it started out it was for stranger abductions,” Ohio Police Chief Arnold Stanko said. “Over time we learned that parents abduct their own children and kill them.” Of 17 alerts issued in northeast Ohio since 2002 through January, nine involved children abducted by parents, family members or a live-in boyfriend. The statewide plan in Texas, which began in 2002, issued 20 alerts through February. Two were stranger abductions; the rest involved noncustodial parents or people who were known to the child or family. No Amber Alert was issued the day Gina DeJesus, 14, of Cleveland, failed to return home from school in 2004, because no one witnessed her abduction. Gina is still missing. “The Amber Alert should work for any missing child,” her father said. “It doesn’t have to be an abduction. Whether it’s an abduction or a runaway, a child needs to be found. We need to change this law.”