Through AMBER-coloured glasses: Perceptions of child abduction alerts in Canada

Miss Monique Lynn1

1University Of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia

Predatory crimes against children are considered some of the most heinous and abhorrent in public consciousness, with demands for reforms to better protect children a common occurrence following prominent cases of harm against a child. Although a rare phenomenon, the issue of missing and abducted children is one that demands public, media, and governmental attention. Rising out of fear and concern about child abduction, Amber Alerts were created to advise the public when a child has been abducted or is deemed missing and at risk, first in the United States and now in over 24 countries around the world. Despite the public serving an important role in this system, with people’s outrage featuring as a key factor for their creation and the public being the intended recipients of Amber Alerts, our understanding of the public’s perception is currently limited to the United States. This project uses survey and social media data to provide the first examination of public attitudes towards Amber Alerts in Canada. Moral Foundations Theory is applied to consider whether perceptions of this crime control system are informed by moral sentiments. Results indicate that whilst there are largely favourable views towards Amber Alerts, there exists more nuanced attitudinal groups than previously accounted for in the literature. It is further shown that moral values, and predominantly those around protecting the vulnerable from harm, may underpin attitudes towards Amber Alerts and help us understand the views of the most vocal advocates of the system.


Monique Lynn is a PhD candidate in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland. Her research interests include public responses to crime and crime control, and particularly the expression of these on social media and online platforms. She completed a dual degree in Arts/Human Services and has a First-Class Honours in Criminology. Monique also works as a sessional academic in criminology and criminal justice. Her PhD project investigates Canadians’ responses to the recently introduced wireless emergency alert network, and specifically the inclusion of Amber Alerts as part of this mandatory notification system


Dec 09 2021