The Disconnect Between Rhetoric and Reality: Official Portrayals of the AMBER Alert System
AuthorJessup, Corey Andrew
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Public perceptions regarding the AMBER Alert system are likely influenced by official statements made to the American people through various forms of media (Kappeler & Potter, 2005). However, what the public hears arguably represents a narrow view of the child abduction phenomena and its prospective solutions. To date, there has been no attempt to critically and systematically examine the language and rhetoric used in state website portrayals of AMBER Alert. This thesis is an attempt to address the existing research deficit though an exploratory content analysis of states‟ official AMBER Alert websites. Emphasizing an examination of various messages being sent to the public regarding the concern of missing children specifically, a total of seven themes were coded from all 50 state websites. While most websites contained the highly specific AMBER Alert issuing criteria as set forth by the federal government (n=45), only half contained information or links about current alerts in their state (n=25). More importantly, these websites expressed optimistic assurances rather than explicitly cautionary notes about AMBER Alerts' limits, a serious oversight that needs to be investigated.