Though they hope families never get into a situation where they need to use them, two Pennsylvania Republicans have proposed giving kits to parents to identify missing children.
Building on national efforts to improve child identification programs, Sens. Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington, and Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, last week announced plans to reintroduce the Child Reunification Actlegislation that would provide parents of kindergarten children with kits containing fingerprint materials, DNA swabs and other resources to help parents easily record information to identify their children.
“The disappearance of a child is a nightmare scenario for parents, and families in this horrific situation must provide law enforcement with personal information about their child as soon as possible,” Bartolotta said in a statement. “Having this tool at hand is crucial for families, even though we hope they never need it.”
Parents and guardians would be responsible for storing the information collected, which will not be included in any national or state database.
The American Football Coaches Association founded the National Child Identification Program 1997, a year after the kidnapping of Amber Hagerman, the namesake for the Yellow alert, hoping to get fingerprints from 20 million children. More than two decades later, the program, which also works with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has distributed more than 54 million kits.
Martin and Bartolotta’s proposal would distribute the kits directly to parents, but parents can buy them themselves on-line through the identification program. They range in price – from $4 to $10 – depending on the quantity ordered.
The FBI also offers one apartment so parents can store photos and information about their child in case of an emergency. The FBI said it doesn’t collect or store any information entered into the app, noting that the data remains on a user’s phone unless they need to send it to law enforcement.
“When a child goes missing, every second and every detail counts,” Martin said. “Providing parents with this resource gives law enforcement every opportunity to locate a missing child and return them to their families to prevent future tragedies.”
Data for 2021 from the FBIs National Crime Information Center show that people under the age of 18 made up 30,400 – or 32% – of the total of 93,718 active missing persons records.
“Our proposal provides families with a simple tool that allows them to keep important information about their child safe at home, which can have a real impact on law enforcement’s ability to expeditiously locate a missing child,” Bartolotta and Martin wrote in one Memo requesting legislation support.
U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, and Donald Norcross, DN.J., previously introduced a similar process Suggestionurging parents and guardians to keep information about their children so that, in an emergency, law enforcement can “spend their invaluable time trying to find a child’s location, not their fingerprints.”