Protecting Your Children with Fingerprints

As terrible of a thought that it is for any parent to consider, the fact is that each year hundreds of thousands of children go missing. Many of these children are quickly reunited with their parents – such as a child getting separated from her parents at a fair or a toddler wandering off in the mall. However, it is still important for parents to be prepared for a more serious version of this situation and to assist law enforcement officers in whatever ways they can.
Many law enforcement professionals agree that the biggest help a parent can give in helping to locate and identify their missing child is having information ready to hand to law enforcement the instant you report your child missing. To that end, the American Football Coaches Association started the National Child Identification Program (NCIP) in 1997 and the FBI has been a partner in this program since 2002.
The NCIP distributes a kit to parents that includes:
• The materials necessary to take inkless fingerprints
• Cards for detailing your child’s physical descriptions – including a body map for point out scars, birthmarks and other identifying features
• A place to keep current photos
• An easy-to-use swab to take and store a small DNA sample
Why is recording your child’s fingerprints particularly important? Not only because everyone’s fingerprints are unique, but also because they do not change over time like physical appearances. The fingerprints and other information in the kits are not kept by the FBI or any other law enforcement organization. Instead, they are kept by the parents and given to law enforcement only in the case of an emergency.
Kits are available to order for a small fee through the NCIP website and also distributed for free at select college football games across the country in partnership with local FBI offices. This year, as you are checking off all the other back-to-school boxes – like physicals, immunizations and buying school supplies – take the step to keep your child safe. Either update the photo in your missing child kit, or order a kit if you do not already have one.
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