MADISON (WKOW) -- Recent missing child cases such as 16-year-old California native Hannah Anderson and toddler in Rhode Island raise concerns of Amber Alerts locally.
Currently, there are no active Amber Alerts in the state, but there were 988 missing children in Wisconsin as of July 1.
According to Amber Alert Wisconsin, about 1 in 4 of these missing kids are considered "endangered," or whose physical safety is in danger.
Children must be 17 years old or younger for authorities to issue an Amber Alert. Other criteria include a child being in danger of serious bodily harm or death, and that authorities have sufficient information about the child, the suspect(s) and the suspect's vehicle.
Amber Alerts cannot be used for runaways or children abducted by family members, unless the child's life is in danger.
If parents believe their child is missing, they should call police immediately, as Wisconsin does not have a 24-hour waiting period, according to Amber Alert Wisconsin. They should also have their children's records on hand, including a recent color photo, fingerprints, hair sample, blood type, and description of them and what they were wearing when they went missing.
Changes in a child's behavior could also be an indicator that something is wrong, so parents should also look out for adults who pay an unusual amount of attention to them, such as buying them expensive gifts.
To help prevent kidnappings, parents should teach their kids important information, such as their full names, addresses and phone numbers; how to make long distance phone calls; and what to do if they're approached by a stranger.
Strangers commonly offer rides, gifts and candy, ask children to help look for a lost dog or cat, or claim their parents told them to pick them up because of an emergency. If any of these happen, parents should tell their kids to run away immediately and yell or scream for help.
Amber Alert Wisconsin recommends that parents listen to their children and provide a communicative environment where their children feel comfortable coming to them if they feel threatened by somebody.
If you believe your child is missing and in danger of serious harm, call local police and report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.
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