AMBER Alerts / Things for kids to do

Posted: July 25, 2012 in Crime, Social & Economic Dynamics
Tags: ,

Reacting to some of the things I’m reading in the news today –

I think it’s useful to look at the official U.S. Dept. of Justice guidelines on the use of the AMBER alert. Here is a relevant excerpt…

AMBER plans require law enforcement to confirm an abduction prior to issuing an alert. This is essential when determining the level of risk to the child. Clearly, stranger abductions are the most dangerous for children and thus are primary to the mission of an AMBER Alert. To allow activations in the absence of significant information that an abduction has occurred could lead to abuse of the system and ultimately weaken its effectiveness.

An opinion as to whether or not an AMBER alert should have been issued for Jonathan and Paul should be based on those guidelines. Either way, I don’t blame the parents one bit for wanting the APD to use every means at their disposal, I would probably would have done the same.

AMBER alert or not,  I wonder why we can’t at least publicize area missing persons reports through local media? I had no idea that the two boys were missing until I saw the story in the paper.  Distributing such information should be easy through Facebook , web sites and email.  Would a local alert system be a good idea? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

I’m all for creating new things to do for kids in Amsterdam. It’s a challenge for all parents to keep their kids occupied during summer vacation. But, it’s not like there’s nothing to do in the city.

My kids are enjoying attending the Amsterdam Library Summer Reading Program. They have stuff to do almost every single day for free! It’s a fantastic program. And don’t forget the city pool or the numerous parks that we have.

I do get a bit annoyed when parents start blaming the city for not providing things to do for their kids, as if  it’s the government’s responsibility to keep your kid occupied. There are plenty of things that parents can do on their own, or by networking with other parents to keep their kids busy and out of trouble. My wife and I bring our kids to the various parks all the time, and we are always struck by how underutilized they seem to be. I grew up in a rural area of the Town of Amsterdam, where there really wasn’t anything to do.  Sometimes I think we forget how much potential there is in this city if we just expend a little effort.

Any other ideas that you know of for kids to do? Please share in the comments!

p.s. If you don’t mind driving 20 minutes and spending a modest fee, there are  unbelievably cool science workshops for kids every week at the Schenectady Museum.

  1. diane says:

    Tim, thank you for posting the Amber Alert criteria, as I hope it clarifies why it was not used and put it to rest. I truly believe that APD does a great job 98% of the time. But if my child were missing, I would be freaking out too. I posted my comments on the previous column and I think they are worth reading and relevant. There are activities for kids around here, but parents also need to make an effort to be involved with their kids and what they do. Skateboard parks are expensive to build and maintain and then there is the liability issue for the city, which I would assume would be greater. We do have parks all over the city that are under used, do they have all the amenities or some amenities that kids will use? The city is not a babysitter, but they do provide the parks.

  2. Tim Becker says:

    Diane, I’m going to copy and paste your other comment here instead of on the other thread, as I think it’s more applicable to this article.

    Diane’s comment was….

    We need a community center. I have proposed on two different occasions before city council moving the park that Centro Civico is building on a main thoroughfare and next to a bar, to the area behind the church on East Main, that has been taken over by the arts group. The arts group who neither wants to own or rent could probably find space in the Elwood Museum complex. By relocating the park, which has only done some grading work, to behind the church, not only gives the area a nice park, off the main drag, but by using the church for indoor activities geared more toward youth activities it gives them a place to go for indoor or outdoor games. Parents can volunteer time to supervise on a rotating basis. This would be a much more needed and practicable use of this property, that is city owned. The arts group does not have a lease or contract from the city to use this property. This should be brought before city council and discussed for the most viable use of the property. I have seen the plans for the park, and the plan could easily be flipped/reoriented to fit the park area behind the church.

    I did see an article in the paper last week the school district was looking to move their alternative classes to Bacon. To me that would make sense, as it would give those kids that want to learn the opportunity do so in an appropriate school environment. The school district owns the school, the city owns the church and park/play area behind it. Working with Centro to move their park there would be a win win for all involved.

  3. Rob Millan says:

    If ever there’s been a recognized need for a community center to fill a deep void, it’s now. So why the delay? Give people a real community center, not just one that caters to teens or seniors, and that offers a wide array of things to widen interest and be more inclusive. Right?

    The idea of some community center is great, although certainly not new. It’d be nice if it were already in place. Trouble is, each and every time the idea is brought up, a handful of very vocal people seem to come out to shoot the idea with invented reasons for not allowing it. We could all post links to study after study that prove community centers and after-school clubs dramatically curb violence and help in identifying problems at home; but this is Amsterdam, where numbers, facts, and hard evidence is always trumped by lies, misinformation, and innuendo.

    Of course another issue would be to actually convince children and teens to partake in these worthwhile activities.

    And then comes the issue of funding, where there’s the admitted ‘We need a community center; I just don’t think taxpayers should pay for it’ or my personal favorite ‘This should be a private group running a community center, just not a non-profit so they can pay no taxes!’

    And to correct Diane’s comment that the YMCA left ‘to get out of Amsterdam’, this is false, as the Y’s original intent was to, in fact, stay in Amsterdam and build a new facility behind Lynch Middle School in an empty field across from Four Diamonds that had never had a practical use to the City. It still doesn’t. This was killed before it even materialized as the residents of Arnold, Lincoln, and Lindbergh Avenues banded together to protest with quality of life issues (like the ‘park people’). It was only then that the organization decided to move to Hagaman.

    • Ann M. Thane says:

      I’d love to revisit the idea of making Bacon Elementary School into a community center. Rob’s right, we need people to be vocal about this.

      • diane says:

        The cost of turning Bacon into a community center is quite expensive. I would rather see the school district use it for their alternative Ed programs and give the ones that want an education a chance to thrive in a quality environment. As mayor you should take the lead and work with Centro Civico to move their park to a safer location and combine it with the church on East Main and Vrooman. It would be a much smaller community center to manage and maintain than the Bacon School. This community center could have space in it for the arts. If that is not acceptable, then let them pursue an arrangement with the Elwood when they move into their new diggs. This is an excellent location and would certainly help in the overall appearance coming in Rt 5 from the East. There is no lease or contract on that building at present and it would make a great community center and park. The space on main street can be turned into green space. A simple swap of properties.

  4. I’ve never bought into the whole “there is nothing to do in Amsterdam” argument. Our two kids have been involved non-stop in a wide variety of activities in the city since the ending of school and most require little or no money all. Also, the city gets plenty of kids here from Mayfield, Northville, Broadalbin, Galway and even St. Johnsville taking part in the summer activities. If there is nothing to do here then why are all these families bringing their kids here?

    • robert purtell says:

      I agree that there are “things to do in Amsterdam” when I was a teenager, we made things to do, we did things like fishing, baseball, riding our bikes to the sacandaga, we also mowed lawns and shoveled snow to make pocket money to provide for the other things in life, movies, food etc.
      As I have said before, this is not an attitude exclusive to Amsterdam.

  5. Carol Jordan says:

    There is plenty for parents to do with their kids, if they just get involved in what their kids do. When my kids were little, we lived quite far out in the country, with NOTHING to DO, so our kids played outside, and we didn’t have a lot of money, so they played in the yard, with their siblings, or with friends, to FREE libraries, I played even games with them and their friends, or we went to visit city parks, where they could swing, swim, and have fun like that. I went with them, when they were small, and didn’t expect other parents or adults to keep them out of trouble.
    Parents so often expect someone else to put together stuff for their kids to do, or want to send their kids off to do things with others, because they are too lazy or unmotivated, or uncaring to spend time with their own kids. This is so wrong. They need to feed, cloth and entertain their OWN kids, and stop expect the public system to be their free entertainment, etc.. Simply put…if they aren’t aware of what their kids are up to, they are at fault, NOT THE CITY, TOWN or VILLAGE.
    Some parents don’t always have a lot of time to spend with their own kids, because they have to work, etc.., but they shouldn’t expect the city or town or village to entertain their kids to keep them out of trouble. When I see small children out wandering after dark, that is an indication that a parent is NOT doing their job, and those kids need to be supervised by THEM…not others.

  6. diane says:

    I think part of the problem is some parents are lazy and some are still kids. We have a problem in this city with 3rd and 4th generation of welfare recipients. They expect everything to be provided for them by the government. It is not the governments’ job to do it. But there is no reason that the city along with Centro Civico and churches and other organizations cannot come together and make some areas more kid friendly. Today, the Bd of Ed announced they are moving alternative classes to Bacon, so that property is out as a community center. That still leaves us with the church at East Main and Vrooman to be turned into a community center. It is a great location with access to a playground in the back and off street parking for parents. And again, if CC would move their main street park there, it would be a double win. There would be both inside and outside activities. I moved here 11 years ago and the city did not have these problems then. People move here, so they can get away from the big city problems, yet now those problems are coming here. Through Neighborhood Watch we are taking some areas back, others need volunteers to get going. WE need to work together to solve these problems many of which are a result of the wlefare system and others of kids having kids. The cycle has to stop. There needs to be more structure in the home life and a tool to make that happen is a curfew. I am bringing it up again. It works in other communities around the country and it can work here. I don’t care that Rochester’s was shot down by the courts. Our corporation counsel can write it to avoid the areas that were challenged in the Rochester Law. He is paid very handsomely. It is he that has put the squash on the curfew. If you give the parents another tool to help control the kids it can work. I would hope that the school board the common council and centro civico and the churches and other organizations could come together and work to solve some of these issues. But, everything would have to be on an even basis with all working together to solve the problems. This can be done and if you would like to join me in being part of the solution, call me and we will get something going to address these problems. 842-2490. Thank you.

  7. karin says:

    What ever happened to Big Brother & Big Sisters??

  8. diane says:

    They are not in the city, but have one in Schnectady 🙂

  9. Rob Millan says:

    By the way, speaking of local alert systems, what about the reverse 911 the county has?

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