The Norman Transcript

September 27, 2013

Runaway alerts for teens could save lives

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma has Amber Alerts for missing children and Silver Alerts for missing seniors, so why not have runaway alerts for teenagers?

That’s the question some lawmakers will be asking next session. State Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, plans to introduce legislation establishing such an alert for missing teenagers.

Law enforcement processes hundreds of missing teen reports each year. Some are legitimate cases where teens are on their own. In most cases, the teens are reunited with their parents or guardians.

However, some are believed to be kidnappings where children become the commodity of human traffickers.

A Weatherford family whose 16-year-old daughter went missing last October sees value in such an alert system. JaRay Wilson’s disappearance was initially classified as a runaway, but now authorities fear she may have been abducted.

Some law enforcement officers worry that the public may suffer from alert fatigue and begin to disregard the multiple warnings they receive. However, the system proposed would allow residents to opt in to a system that sends out warnings.