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Posted January 13, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Today is AMBER Alert Awareness Day

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(From a Virginia State Police press release) RICHMOND - The Virginia State Police will join law enforcement nationwide in recognizing Jan. 13 as AMBER Alert Awareness Day.

Today marks the 13th anniversary of the abduction and murder of Amber Hagerman of Arlington, Texas. The nine-year-old's tragic death in 1996 prompted broadcasters in her state to team with local law enforcement agencies to develop an early warning system which solicits the public's help to find abducted children. The AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert program is now available in all 50 states.

Nationwide more than 430 children have been safely returned to their families thanks to the AMBER Alert program, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). In Virginia, there have been 20 AMBER Alert activations since its inception in 2002, with three activations in 2008.

As part of Amber Alert Awareness Day, Virginia State Police have partnered once again with the Department of Education to coordinate the participation of Virginia's 5th grade students in the National Missing Children's Day Poster Contest sponsored by the United States Department of Justice.

The contest aims to educate children about personal safety through creative artwork representing America's effort to "Bring Our Missing Children Home," which is this year's theme. Virginia school divisions have been sent information and are scheduled to kickoff the art project on AMBER Alert Day (Jan. 13).

Each school division will select one winner and submit their poster to the Virginia State Police Missing Children Clearinghouse by March 6. Judging for the statewide winner will take place the week of March 9.

In April, the national judges will submit the name of the poster contest winner. The winning student will travel to Washington accompanied by his/her parents and be recognized at the National Missing Children's Day ceremony on May 25.

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