(8/29/2002) The AMBER Alert system is all over the news these days and has been credited with the positive resolution of many cases. Now, the Internet community is getting involved, but after a long history of false and misleading accounts, many doubt the veracity of e-mailed missing child reports - and for good reason.
In the early hours of August 28, two armed men broke into Nicholas Farber's Palm Desert, California, home and abducted the 9-year-old at gun point. A detailed physical description of Nicholas and his abductors, along with contacts, are provided in this Poster from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
On August 30, 2002 - just two days after his forced abduction - Nicholas was found, safe and sound, in a campground 20 miles east of San Diego, California. His non-custodial mother has been arrested and charged. Unfortunately, this e-mailed "Amber Alert" continues to circulate because there is no way to recall it.
The letter above is the latest in a disturbing trend from MailBits.com. Long known as a purveyor of joke-of-the-day newsletters and other frivolous Internet pursuits, Mailbits has shifted gears of late to include missing child chain letters and bits of armchair activism. Unfortunately, spelling and grammar errors coupled with the fact that clicking the link provided takes you to a page (with no apparent connection to the case) that asks you to supply the e-mail addresses of 10 friends and subscribe to other newsletters has many wondering if the notice above is for real.
As we can see with this example, e-mail is a poor medium for this type of information. That's why e-mail is not included in the specifications of the AMBER plan. It is simply too unreliable. Often, missing child chains that continue long after the case has been resolved can create more problems than they solve, as law enforcement and other officials have to devote time to respond to inquiries about a closed case. Break this Chain.
Category: For the Kids