The FBI Says: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid for Your Kids

Hi Readers: Firsts off, thanks to all of you who sent this in: The very first app the FBI is releasing to the public. It’s the “Child ID App,” allowing you to store your kid’s photo, height and weight in one easy-to-retrieve place, and to forward this info instantaneously to the authorities. It was developed, according to the FBI’s site, to put “Child Safety In Your Hands.”

After all, the site notes: “A child goes missing every 40 seconds” — that’s 800,000 kids a year. “Many never return home.”

My question: Does the FBI read its own statistics? Because I do. And from what I read, about 115 children are kidnapped by strangers each year. Of these, 50 are murdered. We live in a country of about 60,000,000 children age 15 and under. So the idea that “many” children never return home makes sense, if by “many” the FBI means 1 in over a million. And while perhaps a child goes missing once every 40 seconds (I know I went missing when I hid in the closet as a tot), one goes missing permanently, due to a stranger abduction, once a week.

Of course, even once a week is terrible. Heart stopping. No one would ever say otherwise. But by offering this app to America, the FBI is reinforcing the idea that children are in constant danger.  It feels as if the FBI has raced to fill a need that doesn’t exist while feeding a fear that’s already out of control. Maybe even at FBI headquarters.

Because as the FBI should know better than anyone, crime is DOWN since when most of us parents were kids (check out the charts toward the bottom of this link). It just doesn’t feel safer when the nation’s top crime agency is telling parents that children are disappearing, perhaps forever, all day long. That is a very scary thought, the kind that makes parents think they can’t ever let their kids out of their sight.

What is the down side to an app like this?  I mean, it IS nice to have a photo of your child available, if only so the pretzel lady at the mall can say, “Oh, your little boy is just on the other side of the kiosk!”

But the app comes with a tie to the  National Child Identification Program, which provides a physical kit to gather your child’s pictures, fingerprints, personal characteristics, and DNA “to keep with you in case of emergency.” What kind of emergency would that be?

Well, it’s not the kind when your kid is goofing around on the other side of the pretzel kiosk. It’s the kind when your kid’s body is decomposing.

Even granting that this app may indeed be helpful in some very rare, worst-case-scenarios (and not just running our law enforcement officers ragged with false alarms), turning it into just a handy-dandy thing you’d want to carry with you — the parental equivalent of a jack — makes it feel as if murdered children are as common as flat tires. The consequences of that dread are real, and I’m not just talking about obesity, diabetes and depression as we park kids at home, to be “safe.” There are other costs: Empty streets, because parents are too afraid to let their kids play. A line of cars in front of the school, because parents believe their kids aren’t safe to walk. Children never  organizing their own game of kickball, or climbing a tree, or riding their bike to a friend’s house, because the FBI is telling parents that every 40 seconds one of them will disappear.

I try not to have a knee-jerk negative reaction to safety products because I love some of them — like safety belts, and helmets. But when the product’s benefits seem slim and the societal repercussions loom large, I say: Keep a photo of your kids in your wallet and go about your day. And FBI? Get a grip. — Lenore

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78 Responses to The FBI Says: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid for Your Kids

  1. erissian August 10, 2011 at 5:00 am #

    It’s definitely every 40 seconds, but just during a particularly horrible hour and a half.

  2. Slee August 10, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    Between my home and the bus stop my child was assigned, there are two persons who were convicted of sex crimes against minors, served time, were and put on the offender list for a period of time. As they’re no longer listed, the new bus company doesn’t agree that there’s a problem, so I am going to continue to err on the side of overprotective.

  3. brad August 10, 2011 at 5:16 am #

    I’m actually not surprised… isn’t there an app for just about anything now? I don’t think there is a hidden agenda involved, this is more to do with technology and people’s unending love for it

  4. emccars August 10, 2011 at 5:16 am #

    Slee, were those crimes against strangers, or children they knew? Have you spoken to your children about never going into a stranger’s house or car? If so, I don’t see what danger exists.

  5. dmd August 10, 2011 at 5:32 am #

    Oh, Lenore, if I’m brave enough I’ll share this post with my pastor. *Just* last night, in a meeting at my church, a kid appeared. Really, he just ran into the room we were meeting in w/ a bike helmet on his head. His (free range) mom sent him out of the house. The only downside is that there are no kids our there for him to play with. (I peg him @ about 9, btw.)

    My pastor (an interim whom I don’t see eye to eye w/) started in on how dangerous it was: “anything could happen!”. Of course, I spoke up but it was obvious she didn’t believe me. She swore she never did that w/ her now 21-year old son (don’t believe it).and said that just the other day she ran off a man w/ a dog who (according to her) had no business where he was and was watching a group of kids. He very likely was an innocent bystander, but she *knew* he had I’ll intent.

  6. K August 10, 2011 at 5:34 am #

    Another “bonus” from our government to make life easier… for them.

    The FBI can simultaneously justify a higher budget for their program by instilling fear, and (for the incredibly tragic few) make us do some of their job for them.

    I thought of you when I first saw the app advertised.

    And, here I am with friends on facebook that won’t share kid photos because “the internet is too scary for children” and “things are so scary now”… when (in theory at least) in facebook you control who sees your photos and life is less scary than it was.

    Many, many children are abducted – mostly by family, typically following divorce. As always, tragic things sometimes happen… like it or not – you can’t protect yourself from crazy.

  7. Stephanie August 10, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    Ahhhh! I don’t have an IPhone or any other smart phone. I can’t get this app. Clearly my children are doomed, doomed I tell you!

  8. mysticeye August 10, 2011 at 5:56 am #

    Umm are there many parents who have a photo-capable cell phone who don’t have a picture of their kid? And do we reaallllllly need an exact height and weight?

    Also this won’t do dick if your child really is at risk. There are better products out there for children that really are at risk. And of course there are ways to make your child less likely to become the victim of a pedophile.

    I bet there’s at least one pedophile in my area. I bet at some point my child will be in contact with a person in authority who is not a convicted pedophile but should be. Very, very few pedophile snatch children; and very, very few molest children without first getting to know that they can get away with it because the child won’t talk.

  9. About Pediatrics August 10, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    Whether a child is abducted by a stranger (least likely scenario), friend, or family member, or gets lost at the mall or an amusement park, you still want to be able to quickly and easily give as much information as you can to the authorities.

    This app seems like an easy way to do that “in the unlikely event that your child goes missing” (a quote from the FBI description of the app).

    I’ve never felt the need to get my kids fingerprinted, even though the kits are often offered for free in schools in my state, but I think I will put all of their info in this app.

    Does it make me “feel as if murdered children are as common as flat tires?” No. But it helps me know that putting all of their info together if I ever need it is as easy as playing Angry Birds.

  10. Marion August 10, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    The next step will be a chip implanted in said kid, and the next step after *that* will be legislation so we will *all* be chipped and tagged (“what do you have to hide, after all?”). The chip will double as a passport, driver’s licence and general ID. You know, like in that movie, ‘Minority Report’.

    Or ‘1984’.

  11. Kate August 10, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    @K – I just wanted to note that you can’t really control what happens to your photos on Facebook. For example, all of my settings are “friends only” but every time I post pictures of my son my MIL re-posts her favorites to her facebook feed so her friends can see them. I don’t mind because I don’t post anything I’m not comfortable having be fairly public but people should be aware that once you put it online you no longer have any real control over it.

  12. NZ mum August 10, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    Only in America LOL

  13. Coccinelle August 10, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    There is an app for all and everything. I just saw yesterday an app for telling you what time you last changed your baby’s diaper and what time you last feed him. Heh? Just change him when he needs to and just feed him when he’s hungry!

    I agree that the FBI is quite wrong with it’s scare campain… like people needed that to feel scared about their kids safety… For all we know, the current trend that grows like weed that our kids are unsafe was started bu the FBI some time ago? I would’t be surprised!

  14. rhodykat August 10, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    Ok, I was rolling my eyes until I got to the part about the DNA kit…that is where my stomach starting turning and I wondered if maybe, just maybe, the government has figured out a sure-fire way to get everybody’s DNA on record…how scary is that thought?

  15. rhodykat August 10, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    and, FWIW, I have a whole camera roll of photos of my kids in my cell phone that I can email to the authorities in less than a minute if need be, as well as a post-it with height and weight and shoe size that I keep for when I’m shopping. Most moms I know can recite the heights and weights of their kids. Seems useless to me.

  16. Lollipoplover August 10, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    Maybe the FBI should spend it’s time instead getting those terrible Barbies that child pornographers are using off the market.

    I only fear that once they have all the names of the children *in case* the get abducted, they are going to black list the ones they fear are Communists.

  17. Nicola August 10, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    Well, how else is the FBI going to end up with a catalog of every American “citizen?” If they don’t fear you into full ID’ing of your kids – well – sheesh, they’ll never be able to track them down if they need to. All for safety! /sarcasm off

  18. David August 10, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    Lenore,
    Love the blog, your philosophy and above all the zeal and turn of phrase you use when expressing yourself.

    I worked in the State Police in Australia for…too long and quit when I saw a TV ad.one day from a religious organisation advocating love, tolerance and respect for each other. The problem was one of the scenes showed a grandfatherly figure hand in hand with a young child walking in the garden, my immediate unconscious thought wasn’t “Ahh isn’t that great” but, paedophile abduction!

    The old Russian proverb “If the only tool you have is a hammer, all you see is nails” becomes very true for people whose constant focus is the worst side of humanity, it seeps into your subconscious through constant media bombardment or if you work in LE constant exposure.

    Which isn’t to say that there aren’t real dangers that face children on a daily basis, I grieve for many I know have died.

    In Australia however, the level of children abducted and “never returned” is minuscule in comparison to the number of children who are supposedly under supervision by underfunded, overworked welfare organisations, only to fall victim to family members.

    Whilst most LEO’s mouth an “intelligence-led” approach to law enforcement most are, as they have always been, reactionary. After all most LEO’s has become corporatised and in corporations you have to provide stats about what you’ve done, (you can’t provide stats on what you’ve prevented happening). Sometimes even the fan dance of appearing to do something is just as good, like creating a nifty App. just in case your child is abducted. What happens if you don’t have a mobile or internet access?

    Having said that I agree with Slee to the extent that if you are going to allow your child to roam, then you should at least be aware of the environment their going to be travelling in and specifically educate them, (without terrifying them), about the real dangers that they may encounter and help them devise responses to the possible scenarios, (without terrifying them).

    Keep up the great work.

  19. Dan August 10, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    The problem isn’t the app, it’s how the FBI is selling it. It doesn’t hurt to have information handy when your child innocently wonders off at the mall. But remind people that a child going missing is rarely anything serious.

  20. Mark August 10, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    The “800,000 children go missing each year” statistic is real enough. What they don’t tell you is the other statistic: 790,000 of those children will return home within 24 hours, and the rest have been abducted by the other parent as part of a custody dispute.

  21. Donna August 10, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    Is there really a large number of parents who own smartphones capable of running apps but who don’t have at least one recent picture of their kids on said phone? Heck, my pictures are updated more readily than I’d remember to go in and change some app I’ll likely never need.

  22. bmj2k August 10, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    The FBI has a vested interest in nonsense like this. It makes them look like they are on top of things and doing their job, even if the job is just made-up nonsense like this.

  23. Lisa August 10, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    A consignment store near my house recently had a “child ID party” where you could get your kids’ picture & fingerprints taken, I guess for collection in this app. The owner of the store was telling me about it, and all I could think was, *who’s* collecting this information again? Seriously, I try not to be paranoid about the government…just like I try not to be paranoid about my neighbors. But I was actually a little hesitant about getting my daughter a social security number. (I know, that was just my homebirthing paranoia, and I overcame it! She does have a ss#.) But there’s no way I would send her DNA records to some governmental child ID file! :)

    Also, I’ve lost my child a few times, when she ran off at a store. But I don’t need help finding her. She screams like a siren going off when a stranger speaks to her if I’m not right next to her (and no, I didn’t teach her that! she’s just shy). But I like to say it’s her locator alarm.

  24. kherbert August 10, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    I say we all go and leave 1 star reviews taking them to task for the Fear mongering.

  25. Stuart August 10, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    Of course the FBI is going to whip up fear in a climate of decreasing risk – how else are they to justify their existence (and budget, of course)?

    Oh, and the building of a ‘voluntary’ (ie. before the children are adults and can opt out) biometric database? That’s brilliant.

  26. Cheryl W August 10, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Stephanie, mine are doomed too! My current phone (until I loose it or break it) can take photos, but it is so hard to get it to do it, plus I can’t download easily, that I very rarely take a photo on it. I am sure that if needed, the police could lift prints of my kids off of any of the windows in my house. DNA from the hairbrush. As they are all related, the DNA should be too.

  27. Andromeda August 10, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    I can store my kid’s height and weight?!? Well. That’ll be accurate for all of three days.

  28. Silver Fang August 10, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    My local news was hawking this app today. I figured Lenore would have something to say about it.

    My opinion is just keep a recent picture of the kid on your phone and that should suffice.

  29. Get Kids Outside August 10, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    I work with a few parents like these… very frustrating. I did a bubble gig last week and a few of the kids inhaled some bubble juice at the bubble blowing station. Two mom’s asked me if the soap was non-toxic? Hmmm…. so do you think I’d put toxic soap bubbles out for your kids? Anyway, I got a little worried because one of the parents looked quite upset that their little swallowed some soap. I thought they might complain or something. No one did. Next time I do this activity I may have to put out a disclaimer and let parents know in writing that the soap is non-toxic. Unfortunately, I need to cover myself… or maybe not. Maybe I just need to chill out and let it be. Would I be feeding the frenzy by stating the obvious? I envision I sign that reads…

    “Parents, teach your children to blow, not suck the bubbles. If they do suck, the juice is non-toxic.”

    What do you think?

  30. Nil Zed August 10, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    If you’ve got a phone on which to put this app, locating a recent picture should already be simple enough. If your kids is small enough, then you are already tracking their vitals via a baby book app.

  31. SgtMom August 10, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    I saw this “app” being touted on TV this morning as well, only without the assurances that kidnapping rarely happens. I had the impression I’d better check on my kids immediately and this this app asap.

    It’s free. The FBI loves us. They REALLY love us!

    Don’t have a smart phone? Don’t rush out to buy one – they are “working” on making this applicable for ALL cell phones.

    Until then—hold onto your kiddies!!!

    No cell phones?

    What! Don’t you LOVE your kids?!? Rush right out and get one immediately, or risk exposure in front of all the GOOD moms that you don’t love your kids as much as everyone who has one does!

    Now, Slee – as any well informed parent knows, 95% of sex crimes are committed by people NOT on The List.

    That means while you are worrying about the two “monsters” poised to snatch at the bus stop, your children are, in fact, facing unknown monsters. Under the bed probably.

    Scared even more? Muaa ha ha ha ha! I’ve done my “good deed” for the day. I should apply for a job with the FBI.

  32. LRH August 10, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    “FBI? Get a grip.” That is why I love Lenore so much. She has the moxie to tell the FBI to “get a grip.” (She’s 100% right here by the way.) Lenore, will you marry me? (Ha ha, just kidding.)

    LRH

  33. David August 10, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Fear is keeping children inside and away from exploring nature and independence.

  34. Violet August 10, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Why do we need the FBI for this? What keeps me from buying ink and rolling my son’s prints if I think I might need them? Or plucking some hair, just in case?

  35. Cheryl W August 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Get Kids Outside, if you are using straws, poke a hole with a pin in the middle or top. That makes it harder for the kids to suck up the bubbles. (At least that is what my mother did when in charge of preschool art.)

    Don’t tell them that the probably the same soap you are using for the kids (for which is is non-toxic) is the same stuff I am using to kill squash beetles in my garden! (The bugs can’t breath though the soap.)

  36. Uly August 10, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Whether a child is abducted by a stranger (least likely scenario), friend, or family member, or gets lost at the mall or an amusement park, you still want to be able to quickly and easily give as much information as you can to the authorities.

    Sure! But it’s not any sort of justification for lying and misleading the public.

    The “800,000 children go missing each year” statistic is real enough. What they don’t tell you is the other statistic: 790,000 of those children will return home within 24 hours, and the rest have been abducted by the other parent as part of a custody dispute.

    Well, it’s not quite that simple. Plenty of missing children, especially as they get older and older, are runaways or “throwaways” (runaways whose parents genuinely don’t want them). It’s not an easy life, but by the time they’re 15 or so, if they’re running away you can trust that it’s not because Mommy didn’t let them have cookies after dinner.

  37. JTW August 10, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    The need exists, but it’s not the need of parents or children.
    It’s the need of the FBI (and the federal government in general, in particular DHS, where do you think all that data will end up…) to control and monitor the population 24/7, to make people afraid of each other so they’ll turn to the federal government and be good little puppets where strings can be pulled without question.
    This “app” (I hate the word) is just another tool in that campaign to bludgeon people into being good little drones.

  38. last fashion blog August 10, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    I thought they might complain or something. No one did. Next time I do this activity I may have to put out a disclaimer and let parents know in writing that the soap is non-toxic.Of course the FBI is going to whip up fear in a climate of decreasing risk

  39. Dave August 10, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Again the “professionals”l wants to step in and do for us what we can do better ourselves. Children should be raised and protected by their parents and a supportive community. Instead of give over our rights we should be building and strengthening our communities. We do that in part by getting out of our homes and lowering our backyard fences and getting to know our neighbors. Neighbors not the FBI make neighborhoods safe for our kids.

  40. Miriam August 10, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    One every 40 seconds, huh? Apparently we have lost our math skills in our rush to “zero risk”. What ever happened to teaching self-confidence, self-reliance, self-respect??

  41. In the Trenches August 10, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Slee,
    Though the ‘feeling’ that it makes sense to be overprotective is no doubt strong, you ought to take certain things into consideration before you act: 1. The risks to kids are really minuscule. Tiny enough to be negligible, in most cases. 2. One of the reasons we can’t see that is because of the way our brains are hardwired. We have a cognitive blind spot when it comes to danger. That means that our emotions don’t match reality, and we need to learn about probability in order to make sane decisions. 3. The risks of harm to your kids through overprotection are much more probable than the kind of risks you are imagining: studies are linking overparenting with the transmission of anxiety from parent to child, and a risk-averse upbringing is harmful to future success on several levels.

    So, the choice is often, unfortunately, between worrying about statistically improbable events that you could bet huge sums on without fear of losing, and pretty much guaranteeing that through well-meaning action, your child suffers at your own hands.
    Here’s a link to my blog, which lays some of this out more clearly:

    http://natureofnurturing.wordpress.com/

  42. In the Trenches August 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Lenore,
    Those stats are insane! But it’s similar here in Canada, where our Prime Minister campaigned on a “tough on crime” agenda that includes billions for new jails, which every bit of evidence tells us we don’t need, and in fact that they might be detrimental to our society. Until public policy is led by data instead of emotion and self-serving manipulation of same, we’ll be playing catch-up with the wingnuts. But people are actually hostile to data — our government just gutted the census, for example. Hard to believe that people prefer to be afraid, and that they wouldn’t jump at the chance not to be…

  43. clothespin August 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    There’s a Sesame Street episode titled “There’s an App For That” – just saying. Maybe the FBI watches Sesame Street and got inspired? (By the way, it’s one of my least favorite episodes – that and the opera one.)

    And, happily, I have a stupid phone – as in, not a smart phone. So much easier.

  44. Serena Enslow August 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Right before school let out, I took my cub scout den on a tour of the police station. While we were there, the two officers were lamenting about a mom in our village who repeatedly calls the police station to report that her teenage son is “missing”. 100% of the time, the boy is at a friend’s house, did not tell his mom where he was going, and the mom is too lazy to call around or drive around to look for him. The officers also told me that every call they get like that is filed as a “missing child report”. So if we have at least one in our village of approximately 4000, I wonder how many other parents are out there are doing the same thing. That would definitely add up to 800,000 “missing” children very quickly.

  45. Michelle the Uber Haus Frau August 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Anyone else have the feeling the FBI is trying to dupe people into giving them their childrens prints/DNA for other reasons?

    Seriously, unless someone commits a crime they won’t have their prints or anything like that in their system, but if paranoid mommy and daddy volunteers….

  46. Teya August 10, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    Hmm.. and what about privacy? Would you give that much information about _yourself_ to the FBI “just in case”? I wouldn’t, and I almost feel like it’s violating a child’s rights to make that kind of irrevocable decision for them that will affect them for the rest of their life.

  47. Heather August 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    I have no use for that app, or any other for that matter. Unlike much of society I have no desire for my phone to think or act for me. It’s only purpose is to make and receive calls, when is convenient to *me*, and occasionally text my husband items to pick up on the way home.

    More disturbing to me than the fact that the FBI is pushing this app is the fact that parents let their phones do so much of what their brains should that they become dependent on them for survival, or at least daily life. No wonder they keep their kids locked away. They can’t navigate the world without someone holding their electronic hand, how could their kids ever hope to go it alone?

    I have my kids fingerprints in a file with their vital docs. I took them at home with the free kit the sheriff’s department gave at our neighborhood picnic. I have scores of photos. I even know their approximate height and weight. I do think it it makes sense to have these things just as it is important to teach kids safety before letting them out on their own. However, I don’t need it on my phone or pre-loaded into a database.

  48. Poppy August 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    Even aside from the fear-mongering, this is ridiculous. As others have pointed out, what parent doesn’t have a recent picture and knowledge of their child’s height and weight?

    And what really gets me is that–although it’s touted as a “safety” app–it in no way keeps children any safer. If your child wanders away at the mall, well, chances are excellent that they’ll wander back or someone will bring them to security. You won’t need vital statistics and a photo in that case.

    But if your child gets picked up by a child killer… then all the app will do for you is help you (through fingerprints and DNA) to identify a body. Which clearly means your child is in no way safe at that point! (And dental records could do the same job if this unfortunate turn of events were to happen.)

    So, bottom line–this is not about safety, but about fear. And about giving parents a way to massage that fear and find temporary relief: “Ahhhh, I got the app this morning… my child is safer now!! I’m such a good mom!” And possibly about finding sneaky ways to collect citizens’ DNA/fingerprints. What a waste of resources funding the development and marketing of this app!

  49. EricS August 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    Well, just like any other government agency, this has POLITICS written all over it. 1. They have to justify their spendatures. ie. employed agents, man hours, etc… 2. They have show the country that they are doing there jobs. ie. Job security 3. They have to seen as proactive, and caring. What better way than to instill some fear, so that they can step in and say “don’t worry, we’re on the job”. And everyone knows, the best way to control a population, is through fear. Fear is a great motivator. Unfortunately, most people are motivated the wrong way.

  50. Lollipoplover August 10, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    @Serena Enslow-
    Our local firefighters have said that one of their primary goals in educating youngsters these days is to coach the kids not to fear them in emergencies. It seems that they’ve experienced children hiding from them in rescues (the gear is scary, but now the “stranger danger”).
    I’ve watched them put all their gear on, make the kids touch the gear, and have the kids repeat “firefighters are here to help us, not hurt us” and reassure the kids that they are in fact, there to help in emergencies.
    It seems these fingerprinting/child id gathering parties are making kids scared of everyone.

  51. BMS August 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    I have no cell phone, smart or otherwise. Clearly, I am an evil abusive parent who doesn’t love her kids.

    Yesterday, my husband left the two kids at home for a half hour when he went to the store. In the intervening time, my 10 year old built a hang glider out of dowels, duct tape, and garbage bags and tried to launch it off the deck. The result – a scraped knee, a bruised elbow, and a realization that just because MacGyver can do it doesn’t mean that he can. No abductions, no roving bands of pedophiles, nothing that couldn’t be handled. Despite what the FBI says.

  52. Jenny Islander August 11, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    My husband took photos of the kids just before we left the hotel on our last vacation, every morning. He did this on his own initiative. He recognizes that he lives in a very negative, scary mental world. When I was pregnant and attending a business dinner at a hotel half a block away, he had to stay home with a bad fever. I stayed 10 minutes past time to talk to someone. And he was there at the door of the hotel dining room, pale and sweating, because he had to see with his own eyes that I hadn’t slipped on the ice and hit my head and frozen to death. Again, he recognizes that this is his problem and that the world really isn’t this way. Having the FBI enshrine this paranoia as official doctrine is unnerving and exasperating.

    Our local Wal-Mart has a wall of photos of missing children. Almost without exception, they are:

    1. Teenage runaways.
    2. Parental abductions.

    It’s a sad sight, but also a reality check.

  53. Jen August 11, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    Actually, I see this as a way for the FBI to gather data on people and save it for future use. Not sure what use that may be, but whatever.

  54. Sarah August 11, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    Hey, I have a question related to the “crime is down”/”more kids are inside” thing.

    What tells us that crime isn’t down BECAUSE more of those hooligans are inside playing video games? Or because more of the potential victims are inside playing video games?

    I am not looking to be berated for this question, it just popped up as a possibility. In any case, I’d like to have a good answer, because as my one-year old son grows up, he’s definitely going outside to play!

  55. EricS August 11, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    @BMS: LOL! I remember when we did something like that. More like a parachute made from a king size bed sheet. Only a few feet of the ground but we learned quick not to do that again. Which actually also helped us to start accessing things before we did them.

    @Sarah: Nothing tells us that. But I can tell you for a fact, “hooligans” don’t like staying indoors playing video games. It’s not “exciting” enough for them. And other kids staying indoors more doesn’t change the fact that they still have to go out and go to school, go to a friends house, go to the store, etc… all of which can be prime opportunities for predators to act. Also, being indoors hasn’t really helped some people either. When criminals want to get you, they will, wherever you are. Not saying they will, but just making a point. IMO, crime rate is down, because people who would perpetuate these crimes are thinking less and less to do them. Why, because it’s getting harder and harder to get away with it. Media, social or news can also be used for the better, just as much as they could be used for the worse.

    The key thing, is to never succumb to fear, which leads to second guessing yourself. Know for the most part (and that is the best that anyone can hope for), most kids will always be safe. But just like getting into a car collision, tripping over your shoelace and hurting yourself, slipping on covered ice, someone turning around without looking and bumping into you while your holding hot coffee (you get the point), sh!t happens. It shouldn’t, but it does. That’s just how life is. But that doesn’t make it dangerous everyday, every hour, and every minute and every second. That’s just no way to live.

  56. Uly August 11, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    Well, Sarah, that’s at least a novel approach to that question.

  57. pentamom August 11, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    Sarah — here’s a shot at it.

    If crime was down simply because everyone was sitting inside instead of going outside, you would expect domestic crime to increase. If there is a constant rate of hooliganism that never changes no matter what, then the hooligans would just turn on the people they hang around with all the time, instead of the people “out there.”

    But *all crime* is down.

    So it seems more reasonable simply to believe that it really *is* safer out there, because there is less crime.

  58. Cheryl W August 11, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    Sarah, assuming that you are getting asked this by family or friends, I would say that it is all the more reason to send my kids out to take advantage of it before the meanies figure it out.

    But in reality, Reagan elected president started a very conservative era for us that is still going on. War on Drugs, Just Say No, MADD, Community Watches, etc. Also, we have been in a relatively prosperous era, more equal rights, less segregation and social ills. Race riots are not really likely (England aside,) here as much as in the 60s and 70s because society IS different. Due to DUI laws and crack down on drug use, less crime associated with that. Laws that make us sign for our sinus medications are actually helping to push meth crime out of areas.

    But, where the Free Range Kids come in is that we need a happy medium. I don’t want our society to be like “Hot Fuzz” where every kid in a hoody is considered a baddy, or considered not smart enough to make decisions for themselves.

  59. Lafe August 11, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    As with many safety-related tools, I imagine that this app will make many kids LESS safe. How? It packages safety into a nice little free tool that is so simple — and the “FBI” name makes it rock solid in many parents’ eyes. Consciously or subconsciously, they are then less likely to see a need for all of those complicated things like teaching your kids how to recognize real danger, teaching your kids when to find a helpful stranger for assistance instead of mistrusting all adults… “I plugged their data into the app, so we’re covered.”

    This is the root of what is wrong with most parenting practices these days (not just in the safety area); everyone wants a quick book or an app to make parenting into no work at all. It is work. It’s a lot of work and it requires a lot of thinking. Every kid is different. Every parent is different. Every situation can’t be predicted.

    Learn to think, and teach your kids to think and function, and they will become thinking and fumctioning adults.

    I can’t wait until a parent proudly shows me this app on their phone. I plan to be shocked and ask them why they would use something that may make their kid less safe. Should start a great conversation!

  60. EricS August 11, 2011 at 4:15 am #

    Well said Lafe.

  61. EricS August 11, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    Just like the old proverb goes…”Give a man a fish and you feed him for today. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Same thing goes for teaching kids. You pull them away from a situation, he avoids it that day, but never really learns how or why. You teach him how to avoid situations, because he knows the reason and results, he can do it by himself anytime it arises. Education is not limited to schools. And it shouldn’t just involve spelling, reading and arithmetic. One is never too young (or too old) to learn about common sense, and logic.

  62. SgtMom August 11, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    If the FBI truly wants our kiddo’s finger prints and DNA, they can – and will – get it anytime they so desire.

    The people will give it up gladly “for safety” – look at the TSA grousing and whimperings. Anyone here DIDN’T register your baby with an SSAN?

    So I don’t think this is an effort by the FBI to “try” to underhandedly obtain information, DNA or fingerprints.

    I DO believe it is a finger in the wind, however.

    Put this”app” out there- FREE, and see how many bites it gets from a nervous public.

    I wish I was a fly on the wall to see what sort of response it’s getting.

    I must admit, the news presentation was pretty startling. No hints or build ups, just !!!THE FBI IS OFFERING YOU KIDNAPPING PROTECTION TODAY, RIGHT NOW, FREE, FREE, FREE!!!!

    Crime rates down, particularly THIS type of crime, yet the perception is you can’t pee in private without risking your child’s life.

    Strange and disturbing.

  63. NZ mum August 11, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    It amazes me how people are so freely giving away their personal information! I don’t know anyone in NZ who would rock up somewhere and give away their kids fingerprints or DNA!

    That is not keeping your children safe IMO.

  64. North of 49 August 11, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    Of course the kids go missing. If the parents don’t know exactly where the kids are, they are missing. *pulls hair out*

  65. Paula Burton August 12, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    It is a cheap way for the fbi to get people not convicted of anything on a national dna database. Just don’t do it.

  66. Lisa August 12, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    Just put a link to the article as a review for the app. = )

    Also, someone posted something that totally negates the app. There’s no password protection, so if you loose the phone, a potential predator (who would surely be the one to find your phone)
    would then know everything about your child-photos, nicknames, etc.

  67. Party Piper August 12, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    I was actually really impressed with one of my nieces recently. Their dad allows them a certain amount of latitude. I was showing them how to get out of things like choke holds and hair pulling (I work at a psych facility… rare that we use them, but still falls under need to know), and she was showing me things back. It just strikes me as odd that we are so afraid of kidnappings and assaults, and we don’t show our kids ANYTHING about defending themselves. BTW, the stuff they teach us is designed to work on someone much bigger than yourself. We’re putting all this money into protecting our kids, but at the end of the day, no one really knows how to protect themselves.

  68. Em August 12, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    An app makes it easier when your hands are shaking and you can’t see. It also makes it easier to transmit the information without technical problems.

    The folks who think that children won’t get into a stranger’s car because you tell them not to – um, do you have kids? Do you know any?

    Also, I realize this is too logical, but maybe, just maybe, one reason some crimes are down is that people are more careful. I know. Crazy.

  69. Uly August 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    It’s funny, Em, how everybody to go “Oh, maybe crimes are down because we’re so so so careful now!” thinks they’re the first ones to suggest that.

    But using that logic, shouldn’t crime have been HIGHER in the 1960s than it is today, instead of being on about the same level?

  70. oncefallendotcom August 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    I contributed to the FBI missing kid stat back in the 1980s– I ran away from home. I wasn’t yet 10 years old but I made it some 20 miles from home in 8 hours before I was caught. I may have only done it once, but I outlasted my brother, who ran away multiple times.

    The FBI releases regular reports from their resident expert Ken Lanning yet instead of having him speak, they get that idiot John Walsh, who blatantly lies to us and to Congress, to speak for them. Walsh almost single-handedly created the millions of dead missing kids myth (by that I mean the numbers rather than the phenomenon of rare rape-murders). Why give more credibility to a blatant liar who has a vested MONETARY interest in these scary stats than their own resident expert who has had that exhalted position within the FBI for at least a quarter of a century?

    Most likely its because Lanning has admitted many of the reports released by his own organization is total bunk.

  71. Lilliah August 14, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    My mother is constantly worked up about things like these. I’m fifteen years old, and everytime she sees or hears things like this that make her paranoid; she doesn’t let me go out at all, she gives me lectures on a daily basis about the world being “a cruel and unforgiving place,” I need HELP. My mother needs to get a grip and learn to let me do what I need to do!

  72. rowen August 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/queens/schram_thief_drops_off_the_kids_5th9e8hyOHjB1THRt9dryJ here’s an interesting bit of reasonably good news, even car thieves don’t mean your kids harm!

  73. Wage Slave August 21, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    Thank you for once again reinforcing the stereotype that all children with diabetes got it from sitting at home and being lazy. Most children with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder and not related to physical activity at all. Too bad you had to ruin an otherwise informative and helpful article with that little piece of negative stereotyping.

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