What do Amber Alerts remind us of?

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By Bingqing Mao
The Meridian Times

On the morning of March 28 some Michiganders awoke to an Amber Alert that 6-year-old Hailey Betts was missing. Six hours later, the alert was cancelled because she was found safe at an apartment complex in Port Huron with her father. The incident reminded people of the missing children issue.

Yuki Jiang, a Chinese student who lives in Meridian Township, received the alert around 6 a.m. and said it was the first time she received an Amber Alert and that it scared her.
“I had no idea about what happened and thought it was a firm alarm,” Jiang said. “When I go to class, I found many classmates were talking about this alert, then I realized it was an alert about missing children.”

After she understood what Amber Alert was, she felt very touched.

“It is impressive that a country is eager to use so much resource to find a little kid and investigate the case so efficiently.” Jiang said.

According to Michigan Amber Alert Plan, there are three steps to activate an Amber Alert to find missing children.

First, the law enforcement agency investigating the case contacts the Michigan State Police, supplying information. The Michigan State Police then give information on the child to broadcasters. Second, broadcasters immediately break broadcasting after learning of the alert. Broadcasters give the public, information on the missing child. Third, the public searches for the missing child, reporting any sightings to law enforcement.

Americans are used to Amber Alerts, but to Chinese people in the U.S., they show a remarkable concern and collaboration for finding childen.

Compared with United States, China doesn’t have such a mature system to help find missing children. China issued “the Opinions on Legally Punishing the Crimes of Abducting and Trafficking in Women and Children” in 2010, and said that if parents or guardians had a missing child, they should call the police immediately, and the police should investigate at once.

Last week, a new Chinese movie called “Lost and Love” screened in Both Chian and United States, and it told a story about a father who has looked for his lost kid for 15 years.

After watching the movie, Wendy Chen said, “Love is the biggest mercy, lost is the biggest tragedy.”

Wendy Chen is a Chinese student studying at Michigan State University. One of her middle school classmates was missing in 2010. Chen posted the search notice on Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter), and it was reposted by more than 300 times in one day. A week later, a man connected Chen via Weibo, and said he saw a girl who looked like her classmate. Finally, Chen’s classmate was found in a small town.

Chen said posting search notices online was very useful, however, she thought China also needed to show more government support.

Zicong Yao, a Chinese student who also watched this movie last week, said it struck him greatly and China did not do a great job finding lost children.

“From the movie, I felt China did not pay enough attention to missing children problem. During the journey of seeking for his son, Zekuan Lei (the role of the movie) met many dumb people. They thought it was none of their business, so they never helped. What’s worse, when volunteers found information about missing children, the police were perfunctory.”

Yao said this phenomenon made him sad and depressed. And these feelings became stronger after he saw the Amber Alert.

“From the Amber Alert, we can tell the importance a country places on missing children problem. And I hope China could pay more attention to it.” Yao said.

He stressed that missing children would not only hurt the children, but also distress these families.

“What impressed me most was the moment that the lost kid met his bio-parents again. When the bio-parents called the lost kid’s real name, I was touched,” Yao said. “I did not suffer from this situation, but as a kid from a single-parent family, I could understand parents’ love better; I could feel the pain when parents lost their child and excitement when they saw the child come back.”

Even though March 29’s Amber Alert had a happy ending, there are still numerous missing children around the world. Hailey Betts was not the first kid to be found, but she was also not the last one we lost.

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