A recently enacted component of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) has been
credited with aiding in the rescue of several missing children who were
kidnapped by strangers. It’s called the AMBER Plan.
The AMBER Plan is named for a 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped by a
stranger and later found dead in 1996. In response to that tragedy, the
radio stations in that area agreed to repeat news bulletins about
abducted children, hoping the bulletins might help save the life of a
The name now stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.
It Works Like This
Once police officials have confirmed a missing child report, an alert is
sent to radio stations, television stations, and cable companies.
Broadcasters interrupt programming to relay the information using the EAS
to voluntarily deliver the information to the community – the same
concept used during severe weather or national emergencies. A description
of the abducted child, suspected abductor and details of the abduction
are broadcast to millions of listeners and viewers. (The alert is read
after a distinctive sound tone and the statement: “This is an AMBER
Alert.”) The alert also provides information about how members of the
public who have information relating to the abduction may contact the
police or other appropriate law enforcement agency.
The goal of the AMBER Plan is to galvanize an entire community, adding
millions of extra eyes and ears to watch, listen, and help in the safe
return of the child and apprehension of the suspect.
The EAS is used to notify the public about severe weather and other
national emergencies. In order to prevent the over use of the EAS system,
two criteria must usually be met to enact the AMBER Plan:
A child must be 15 years of age or younger, or have a proven mental or
physical disability; and
Police must believe the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or
What You Can Do
If you see a child, adult, or vehicle fitting the AMBER Alert
description, immediately call the telephone number given in the AMBER
Alert and provide authorities with as much information as possible.
The AMBER Alerts are only used for the most serious child abduction
cases, where the police believe the child is in danger of serious bodily
harm or death, not for runaways or most parental abductions.
This document is for consumer education purposes only and is not intended
to affect any proceeding or cases involving this subject matter or related
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554
Phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)
TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)