America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response
Public Act 92-0259 mandated the Illinois State Police (ISP) develop and implement, by January 1, 2002, a coordinated program for a statewide emergency alert when a child is reported endangered. As a result of Public Act 92-0259 and in cooperation with the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois Sheriffs' Association, and the Illinois State Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children, a statewide "AMBER Alert Notification Plan" was developed. The goal was to create a "workable" AMBER plan applicable to and implemented by any city (including towns and villages), county, or state law enforcement agency in Illinois and amiable to radio and television broadcasting companies. The "AMBER alert" quickly informs the public of specific information regarding the abduction of a child whose life may be in danger.
The days of student-related problems being confined primarily to an occasional playground squabble or someone playing hooky are long gone. Today, we are seeing the problems of crime, violence, gangs, guns and drugs spilling over from the streets into our schools. These criminal activities are not exclusive to the inner city schools. They are occurring in rural and suburban areas as well. In response to increasing public concern regarding school security and safety, the Illinois State Police has developed VEGA (Violence Education & Gang Awareness). VEGA was designed to meet the needs of all communities regardless of the level of school violence and gang involvement.
VEGA's goals are to stress the importance of resolving conflicts without the use of violence, and to provide young people with a better understanding of the consequences they face when joining gangs and participating in acts of violence. The curriculum is taught as a five-lesson supplement to enhance any existing prevention curriculum for fifth and sixth-grade students. The lessons emphasize cooperative learning strategies and deal in a straight forward manner with the tough situations kids are experiencing involving violence and gang activity.
"The escalation of violence in our schools not only jeopardizes the well-being of students, teachers and school personnel, but diminishes the entire learning environment. The Illinois State Police is proud to be taking a leading role with the issues of gang awareness and violence prevention. We will continue to do all we can to make a safer environment for our young people."