The Ananda Alert system for reporting missing children was launched on May 19, 2009. It was named in honour of Ananda Dean, an 11-year-old student of the Swallowfield All-Age School, went missing on September 17, 2008. The two-week search for her ended in despair as her headless, decomposing body was found in bushes along a precipice in the Red Hills area.
The system was devised in the hopes of increasing the chances of recovering missing children by getting information out to the public faster. Under the Ananda Alert programme, when a child goes missing, a report is made to the nearest police station or by calling 119. The police will then alert all Ananda Alert stakeholders including the media houses, mobile companies, local authorities, parish councils; and these will then mobilise community groups. After 12-hours, photos of the missing child will be placed on electronic/mobile billboards, in shops, supermarkets, community centre, church halls, schools and post offices. The programme has faced a number of challenges over the years, but it is still up and running.
It is patterned after the AMBER Alert in the United States, which 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 kidnaped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, TX, and then brutally murdered. Other states and communities soon set up their own AMBER plans as the idea was adopted across the nation.
There are 4,394 children who have been reported missing in Jamaica between January 2013 and March 2015.
If your child is missing, you should…
- Try immediately to contact friends, relatives and associates of the child.
- Go to your local police station and file a missing person report. Do NOT wait 24 hours.
- In attending that station, take a most recent photograph of the missing child.
- Ensure that you are given a receipt by the police after making your report. If you are not satisfied with the response of the police, ask for the station supervisor or superintendent in charge.
- If you locate the child before the police, inform them immediately.