Three Amber Alerts in as many weeks in the Rochester area is not a common occurrence.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is speaking out about this unusual string of alerts.
"Amber Alerts are pretty rare; we typically put out maybe six to eight Amber Alerts a year across New York State. So to have three of them come out in three weeks, just in the greater Rochester area alone, is disturbing when you see it, but it really is an anomaly," said Edward Suk, executive director of the New York Region of the Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Suk says if there is an Amber Alert, then a child is believed to be in danger — that includes infants to toddlers to teenagers, even 14-year-olds who willingly leave with a suspect.
"There’s a good chance that 14-year-old may have been manipulated into that situation and they are at serious risk," said Suk.
It’s the scenario police believe happened in two of the three recent Amber Alert cases from the Rochester area. The third incident involved a toddler taken by her father, police say. All three children have been found and are safe.
Suk says the decision to issue an Amber Alert must meet three distinct criteria:
- The child is under the age of 17
- There is reason to believe an actual abduction has taken place
- There is reason to believe the child is in serious physical harm or in imminent harm
The center urges parents to know who their child is in contact with, in-person and online. Parents should know which forms of social media are being used for any communication with an adult. And, the center says, parents need to step in if they believe their child is communicating with someone who may pose a danger.
"If it looks as if it’s dangerous and inappropriate, get law enforcement involved," said Suk.
Of the 27.000 cases reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children last year, 91 percent of them involved endangered runaways.
"Endangered runaways are at a high level of risk for falling into trafficking,” said Suk.
In fact, the center says about one in seven endangered runaways falls victim to sex trafficking.
The center urges the public to pay attention when an alert is issued.
"Please pay attention to Amber Alerts,” said Suk. “Amber Alerts are immediate, there’s real information in there and if an Amber Alert goes out, there is a child at risk.”
You can call 1-800-THE-LOST to report a missing child, after first calling 911.