Reading & Writing & Finger Prints to Identify Your Dead Body, Kids

Hi bfnkfeeaif
Readers! Here’s a note from Amy Uzinger, a mom in Tucson.

Dear Free-Range Kids: Today I got my 1st grade son’s school pictures in.  Along with the pictures, is a ‘Operation Child I.D.’ form.  It has my child’s picture and there is a spot on the form to take to the police station to have your child’s fingerprints taken.  Then you are supposed to keep this form handy, just in case your child is kidnapped.
It disturbs me that thousands of parents will receive this form and it reinforces the belief that children are in constant danger of being abducted by a stranger.  It makes it seem like such a common occurrence that parents need to be prepared for when it happens.  And when the kids are dragged to the police station to be fingerprinted, this will form in their mind the idea that the world is a scary place and abduction is a real and present danger.
Why don’t we have them wear dog tags at all times so that when they get killed in a car wreck or hit by lightning or have a sudden heart failure it will be easier to identify their bodies?  Sounds morbid.  But all these things are more likely than having them kidnapped by a random stranger and needing to have a recent photo and fingerprints on file.  Sheesh. — Amy

It’s not only morbid — it’s passive. It’s not like issuing them a whistle: “If you’re ever in trouble, cause a ruckus!” Or teaching them basic self defense: “Run! Kick! Scream!” No, it’s, “If we need to i.d. your body, sweetheart, now we can!” Ugh. — L.

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84 Responses to Reading & Writing & Finger Prints to Identify Your Dead Body, Kids

  1. Susan October 18, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    Yes! I have had the opportunity to sign my three kids up for these “safety” programs dozens of times. I always think “Why do they need this except to be able to identify the body?” Yuck!

    Who started doing this? I don’t get it. I also always seem to get the little photos to keep in my wallet that I can hand to a police officer the minute my children are abducted. They have some kind of number on it that you enter in a website. Maybe to be able to send the photo to news and police agencies???

    This stuff is always are advertised as a “safety” product, but I don’t see how it makes my kids’ safer.

  2. Anna October 18, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    I’m wondering when implanted chips like the ones used for cats & dogs will start being recommended for kids, too. Please don’t tell me it already has.

  3. FroggyMama October 19, 2010 at 12:06 am #

    Our city goes one step farther – the police station here issues a complete DNA profile kit for your kids. In addition to fingerprints, you have a swab and storage tube so you can take a DNA sample of your child to have on hand. You know, just in case they are mutilated beyond all recognition – that DNA sample will come in handy!

  4. nancy October 19, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    This program was part of my son’s “Safety Town” day camp experience over the summer, which all incoming kindergardeners are encouraged to attend. The Safety Town program is great for teaching things like how to get out of the house if there’s a fire, how to cross the street, how to ride a bus, etc.

    But then at the end they expected me to stand in a long line and have his photo and fingerprints taken (as well as height, weight, physical description) so he “can be identified if he’s missing”, and I said, “Wouldn’t you just ask him his name if you wanted to know who he was? And the kid gets his picture taken at least once a week already.” (I mean, c’mon, he’s adorable.) And that’s when I realized the point of this is to ID BODIES. Sick! Morbid! Paranoid!

    I said no way and walked out. People looked at me like I was crazy – “but it’s a free service!”

  5. nancy October 19, 2010 at 12:10 am #

    Yes, FroggyMama – Our town was swabbing, too!

    I guess maybe if he does end up dead, then we could have the DNA to clone him somday when technology catches up. 😉 (Entirely tongue in cheek.)

  6. Sky October 19, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    “Why don’t we have them wear dog tags at all times so that when they get killed in a car wreck or hit by lightning or have a sudden heart failure it will be easier to identify their bodies?”

    They actually do sell I.D. bracelets for that very purpose – with name and phone number on them.

  7. Stephanie October 19, 2010 at 12:18 am #

    When I was in 3rd grade (1990) they didn’t even ask, the police came to the school and finger printed all of us. I was sure it was in case we got in trouble with the law when we were older and then they’d know who did it. I was extremely unhappy with this prospect, despite being 9.

  8. Adam October 19, 2010 at 12:27 am #

    I am 40 and I remember an event at my elementary school when we were fingerprinted, so I can’t blame today’s society for this one. Though in retrospect I’m not sure why we were fingerprinted back then, either.

  9. Elfir October 19, 2010 at 12:51 am #

    I think it sounds creepy but my husband wants to do one of those ID/DNA kit thingies. I’ll let him, since it’ll just sit in a closet forever and doesn’t actively stiffle freedom.

    But if it was going into a police database there’s no way I’d agree. I don’t trust the police anywhere near enough to be okay with that.

  10. Amber October 19, 2010 at 12:52 am #

    When I was little (so, this is almost 30 years ago), we got fingerprinted on Halloween while going through the haunted house at the mall (it was a really small town)! But the police kept our print cards, not our parents (it’s not like our parents were with us!)
    I guess the difference to me is that it was made very clear that it was not expected they’d ever need to pull out your card, but just for that extremely rare instance that they did. They made a much bigger deal out of knowing how to be safe and take care of yourself.

  11. dmd October 19, 2010 at 12:56 am #

    Honestly, this one doesn’t bother me. For one, I have no doubt my son would LOVE the idea of getting finger printed. He would want extra copies for himself (although I’m sure some fear monger would find a way to make that a scary, dangerous thought). And, why not – it would just be something good to have as a back up. No, I don’t believe my child is likely to get kidnapped. But even family kidnappings happen and something like that could be useful one day and if it’s not, no harm, no foul. Heck, I took photographs of my son each morning at Disney just in case he got lost I would have a good photo of him in his clothes of the day. I figured he wouldn’t , and didn’t, but the JIC is not a bad thing and didn’t hurt our fun one bit!

  12. Dee Hall October 19, 2010 at 1:05 am #

    They also did this when I started kindergarten back in the early 1980s and I still have my card stuck away with my birth certificate and vaccine records. As long as the cards are sent home with the parents rather than kept on file by the police, I don’t really have much of an objection to it. In the rare case the info is needed, it’s valuable to have.

  13. Nicola October 19, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    @dmd: I think the problem here is that they’re not presenting it as a mellow, “just in case” thing where it’s not likely to happen ever to your child – but that it’s being presented in the same way so many other products are: “IF YOU DON’T HAVE THIS YOUR CHILD’S DEAD AND MUTILATED BODY WILL NEVER BE IDENTIFIED!” I know that they don’t outright say this, but if they were passive about the risks or presented them in a realistic way, no one would ever buy their stuff.

  14. Jeanna October 19, 2010 at 1:19 am #

    I remember when I was in elementary school (early 80’s), having my finger prints taken by the police. I don’t know whatever happened to the card. I thought it was so cool having an officer show us how they did fingerprints (they also gave us badges, candy and told us who ‘safe’ strangers were).

    I received the same ID card info in my son’s school photos too. I typically just toss them in the junk drawer. As a mom- it’s not like I don’t have hundreds of photos on hand to show, in the case something should happen to him.

    It is a morbid way of looking at it though- to think it’s to ID your childs body. Ugh.

  15. coffeegod October 19, 2010 at 1:26 am #

    I actually paid to have this done for my son.

    Then I woke up. Silly me.

  16. Teresa Williams October 19, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    When I was a little girl (I’m 49), every year they sold ID bracelets and necklaces. I thought it was so if I got lost and disoriented they could get me home. Some of them had medical conditions (such as diabetes) on the reverse. Or, you could get a cool design.

  17. Linda Wightman October 19, 2010 at 1:36 am #

    I can think of one positive reason to have your child’s fingerprints filed in your own home (NOT in a police database): not just for identifying dead bodies, but for living ones, and where those living ones have been. Runaways are a lot more common than kidnapped kids. Still rare, but I know parents who would gladly have their runaway teen’s fingerprints show up in a police match (at least over a minor incident), just to know he’s still alive.

    Having your child fingerprinted is like making a living will: a good thing to do, if YOU keep the records and only turn them over to the authorities in a desperate situation.

  18. Pebblekeeper~Angie October 19, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    We were at a kite festival of all places and the two ladies were making it impossible for us to enter unless we received and offered thanks for their child ID kit from an insurance company. Seriously? I really didn’t want or need it, and I didn’t want two more things to carry around until we got home to throw them away. I have about 40-50 photos a day that will ID them, If a finger print is the only way, my grief will never allow me to find that kit anyway. . . . .I like the dog tag whistle idea much better. – which – we do have – a family whistle that is only sung when immediate attention is needed.

  19. Ann October 19, 2010 at 1:57 am #

    I’m 38 and remember getting fingerprinted at age 10 (in fifth grade) as part of a safety program. I guess grew up kind of on the cusp of the ‘good old days’ and ‘the dark days of rampant child kidnapping.’

    Getting fingerprinted didn’t actually freak me out. Having my mother remind me every two seconds about the girl from two suburbs over who went missing on her way home from the store- THAT freaked me out.

    I guess what I’m saying is that it’s all how you present it to the kid. And who’s to say that you HAVE to go to the police department. Take your own fingerprints, if you want, the same way you’d make those cute little casts. You don’t have to subject your kid to anything you don’t want to.

  20. Jimbo218 October 19, 2010 at 2:21 am #

    The fingerprint/DNA could be useful in proving the identity of someone kidnapped (perhaps by a parent in a ridiculous ‘custody’ dispute) and identified years later– say if they were picked up for a petty crime and their prints were matched. It would also apply in one of the vanishingly rare cases of someone kidnapped and ‘raised by strangers’ because as we know from the media ‘this happens every day’. Neither case is likely enough to justify the effort, but there are uses for this besides ‘identifying the body’.

    More pragmatically, not only does it teach them that the world is big and scary (which it IS.. just not ‘that way’), it teaches them that it’s perfectly normal to be fingerprinted, swabbed, pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed and numbered at the whim of the authorities.

    And that is a more dangerous than the perceived threat of stranger danger.

    (bonus marks for the first person to recognize the fractured quotation)

  21. Su October 19, 2010 at 2:29 am #

    My parents had copies of our fingerprints from one of those “fun police days” 20+ years ago… and one day in the 3rd grade, I didn’t get off the bus b/c I was reading & didn’t see my stop. In the 10 minutes that she didn’t know where I was, my mum had called my school, my dad at work, the entire family, AND got out the copies of my fingerprints, which she used for guilt purposes once I finally got home.

    Yeah. I’m not sure it is such a great idea.

  22. Meredith October 19, 2010 at 2:37 am #

    My kids’ daycare (they’re 3 and 1) offered us the opportunity to have digital fingerprints taken – somehow MacGruff, the Crime Dog, was involved. We declined, as did most of the other parents, I think. I assume anyone with a fingerprint kit and a minimum of experience could get the kids’ prints all over my house if needed, and what with the near-daily digital photos I’m taking of them . . . Ugh.

  23. Lucy October 19, 2010 at 2:39 am #

    “And when the kids are dragged to the police station to be fingerprinted, this will form in their mind the idea that the world is a scary place and abduction is a real and present danger.”

    It might also form in their mind that the police will somehow protect them from scary places and abduction danger. In reality of course, the police protect nobody. They only show up afterward to take notes and, we hope, punish the guilty.

  24. msmama October 19, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    Like others said, this really isn’t that new because I had it done when I was a kid (have no idea where the fingerprints actually went, but I do admit it kept me from doing bad things because “my prints were on file”).

    There is regularly a table set up at my local mall for this – run by an insurance company, I think.

    And I admit, I did buy my son a dog tag (from Petsmart) that I attached to his shoe on a Disney trip. But he was only 2 so it’s not like he’s actually reliable to remember Mommy’s phone #.

  25. SKL October 19, 2010 at 2:45 am #

    I don’t like this at all. You know there are so many other uses for fingerprints other than a fleeting chance to identify an unidentified dead body before it rots. It’s bad enough they require my kids to let them take and keep their photographs. Big brother is watching!

    My kid would totally love this, though. As it is, at age 3.5 she has devoted about a quarter of her brain to thoughts of death. “Mom, why do they bury dead people? … Where is Pip (Grandpa’s dog)’s headstone? … What did they do to Jesus’ body after He was dead – did they clean the blood off? … My boyfriend, Prince Philip, got shot by the bad guys / mauled by a bear / … and died.” I can just see her enacting a forensic crime scene complete with dead people’s fingerprints. Yeah . . . I think I’ll leave her grubby little fingertips alone.

  26. Vic October 19, 2010 at 3:11 am #

    My kid got abducted. Let me go dig their ID card out. I’ll be right back!

  27. Rich Wilson October 19, 2010 at 3:12 am #

    What’s worse is when they also give out fear mongering advice:

    “No matter how safe or secure your street feels, it is risky to let small children play in the front yard without adult supervision. It only takes a moment for a stranger to abduct a child”

    “Do not allow children to carry, wear or ride anything with their first or last name written on it (in large letters). This can provide a criminal with your child’s identification. A stranger can get their attention by calling out their name, or even look up their last name in a phone book to see where they live.”

    (Actual samples from the Rocklin CA PD)

  28. tragicsandwich October 19, 2010 at 3:21 am #

    No! Don’t put dog tags on your child! That will ATTRACT the lightening!

    Okay, bout of insanity over. Whew.

  29. Alyssa Morris October 19, 2010 at 3:26 am #

    I was in Burger King yesterday with my kiddos and saw a drop box to sign up for and receive a free Child Safe Kit. The sign above said “800,000 children are abducted every year!” Give me a break. Who would even believe such a number?

  30. EricS October 19, 2010 at 3:26 am #

    Ridiculous. I say, if your a paranoid parent, chip your child at birth. But be prepared to explain that to them when they are teens. God help you if you wait till their young adults. Worse even, not telling them and they find out. Either way, they will probably hate you for the rest of your life. Why? Because NOTHING ever happened to them, but they have been treated like live stock all their lives. Taking pictures and being finger printed? THAT’S what police do to criminals. They really want kids to not only get fearful that they might be kidnapped, but at the same time feel like they have done something bad as to get a mugshot, and prints.

  31. Mrs. W October 19, 2010 at 4:36 am #

    The real kick is that these fingerprint cards make people feel that their child is somehow “safer” because their fingerprints are on file………….because that’s going to be a deterrent to the bad guys lurking around every corner?

    i dunno – but i challenge any halfway talented forensics tech to find a square foot of my house that isn’t already COVERED with my daughter’s fingerprints!

  32. anonymousmagic October 19, 2010 at 5:21 am #

    Sure, fingerprinting kids is completely fine if they think it’s cool and actually want to do it.

    Otherwise, kids have privacy rights just like everyone else and you can’t print them unless they’re a credible suspect in a criminal investigation.

    I’m shocked at how children’s privacy is violated left and right all in the name of “safety”.

  33. Rich Wilson October 19, 2010 at 5:37 am #

    @anonymousmagic at least in my case, they (the PD) don’t actually keep the fingerprints or DNA.

    I have two problems with it.

    One is I think it’s a waste of resources. Even if the ID station is staffed by volunteers, and uses equipment purchased with donated money, those are still resources that could be spent somewhere else, like distracted driving awareness. I wonder how many of the parents I see driving around yacking on a cell phone while their kids is securely strapped in a car seat would never let said kid play in the front yard unsupervised.

    Second is the fear mongering. We occasionally GET TEH SHOUTERS ON HEAR TELLING US HOW INSANE THAT MOM IS FOR LETTING HER KID GO ON THE SUBWAY!!! WE MUST PROTECT OUR PRECIOUS CHILDREN AT ALL COSTS IF YOU LOVED YOUR KIDS YOU WOULD NO THAT!!! doesn’t lead to rational and effective thinking on security. It leads us to do stupid things that in the big picture make make our kids less safe.

  34. bequirox October 19, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    MY brother gave these out as part of his Eagle Scout program thingie. I don’t see what the big deal is. Like a few others have said, it’s a precautionary thing. There are situations where it could be helpful. Car accidents, runaways, etc. People die in ways besides kidnapping and murder.

    Another brother used to run away ALL THE TIME, and maybe this would have been useful. (Probably not, but if he got hurt it could!)

  35. Lisa October 19, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    When I was a kid, about 30 years ago, we had to have pictures done & fill out forms with vital stats, descriptions, things like scars & stuff. However, my dad was a bank manager and at the time, there had been a couple managers & their families who had been kidnapped for ransom, so I think it was a reasonable precaution; we were higher risk than the general population. Only slightly of course. I never thought anything of it, except for lying about my weight when I got to be a teen & was allowed to fill out the forms for myself.

  36. EricS October 19, 2010 at 6:13 am #

    @bequirox: I too can see it being somewhat helpful, if the fear of kidnapping or even rare children’s death (ie. getting lost and freezing out in the cold only to be found days later). They can easily be identified. But if you think about it, this ISN’T protection. This is convenience. That if a child’s body is found they can easily identify them. But it won’t protect them, as the authorities are claiming will. Just another what if, impulse thinking. Instead of doing something that can actually protect and save children (like educating them instead of sheltering them), they just decide this is a better way. Illogical, waste of resource, and really not all that helpful in prevention. Again, all the fears that this idea was based on, are rare incidences. People can say you can’t ignore anything that can help identify the body of your child. I can if that thing gives false hope, encourages fear, puts my child in a position where he doubts himself, and is only helpful after the fact. I’ll take my chances in my kid’s common sense and intelligence. When I’m not around, (s)he’s the only one that can fend for himself. I’m making sure that (s)he knows what to do in any given situation. THAT is the best way of protecting your kid, without living a fearful and insecure life.

    However, the BEST way to protect your child, is to let him live his life in a plastic bubble. With no sharp objects, a bunch HEPA filters, no tv, no radio. You might even need to put him in an induce comma, because being this sheltered, (s)he might go a little stir crazy and inflict pain on themselves. Of course, this isn’t living though. This is just existing. Which is what helicopter raised kids are. They just exist. They aren’t living the life they should be.

  37. wellcraftedtoo October 19, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    From a jaded ‘older’ parent: No need to mess with prints now; just wait a couple years, and your kids will be fingerprinted when they’re picked up by your local cops for everything from ‘loitering’ to ‘breaking curfew’ to ‘playing music too loudly’.

    A ton of the stuff that resulted in so-called ‘station adjustments’ a couple decades ago, now–especially in middle and upper middle class area–triggers full arrests, prints, and charges.

    Lots more fun down the road…!

  38. kherbert October 19, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    SKY – The bracelets with name and phone number have a very good purpose. They were originally done for non-verbal people. Mostly Autistic children and adults with dementia. Several children at my school wear them – all have limited verbal ability and would probably be unable to respond at all if lost and scared. These children tend to be wanders or runners.

  39. Nok October 19, 2010 at 7:56 am #

    Funny thing… our kids actually all have dog-tags with their blood type and all that. We do not make them wear theirs though. We got them as both my husband and I are prior service Army and it was cute to see them on our kids.

  40. sylvia_rachel October 19, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    Yeah, I was fingerprinted when I was a kid too, apparently. I’m 36. My mom thought it was a great idea, and she doesn’t understand why I think it’s weird and morbid.

  41. Mark October 19, 2010 at 8:18 am #

    Somewhere in all the junk I’ve collected over the years is my “I’m lost” bracelet. It’s a piece of cheap steel with my name, home address, my mom’s name and home phone number, and my dad’s name and work phone number. The idea was that if four-year-old me ever got lost, I could go up to the nearest adult, say “I’m lost” and show them my bracelet, and they’d take care of things.

    Far more practical than an “in case of kidnapping” form.

  42. Anna October 19, 2010 at 8:25 am #

    ” challenge any halfway talented forensics tech to find a square foot of my house that isn’t already COVERED with my daughter’s fingerprints!”

    Oh yeah! I just looked one foot from where I’m sitting and saw a nice clear handprint on the patio door that was just cleaned! My son’s prints are all over the house, esp where I would prefer he keep his mitts off!

  43. Rich Wilson October 19, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    “My son’s prints are all over the house”

    Not to mention, assuming your child isn’t adopted, you have 50% of his DNA in every cell of your body. Which is plenty to do a match. If they ever need to identify some child as your own, dead or alive, it’s easy to do as long as they have you (or the other parent).

  44. Larry Harrison October 19, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    Gee whiz, why stop here? Why not have representatives from your local funeral home present at the table where these forms are set-up? I mean, since your child is obviously going to die at the hands of an abductor just as sure as they’re going to poop in their pants, one must be prepared.

    Do you really want to have to deal with funeral arrangements once they’re already gone and you’re grieving? So go ahead, prepare for that now.

    Oh, almost forgot–let some grief counselors be present at the table as well, with business cards so you can call them for grief counseling once the inevitable abduction death occurs.

    /Sarcasm Off

  45. RobC October 19, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    “bonus marks for the first person to recognize the fractured quotation”

    Jimbo218 is not a number, Jimbo218 is a free man!

  46. bmj2k October 19, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    That quote is from The Prisoner.

    Anyway, this isn’t new, I had my prints taken as a child 30 years ago.

    Why turn this into something fearful? Take the kids on a fun “tour of the police station” and make it a learning experience about police work?

  47. Sheila Keenan October 19, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    I did like a tip from a friend about taking photos of your kid on your cell phone. If you’re at a big event where your kid and you might get seperated, take a quick pic on your cell phone so if it does happen, you will have a reference to show security/guest services what your kid is wearing. Useful to me not because I’m worried about kidnapping, but because I can’t remember anything any more.

    Good points about fingerprints and privacy. I’ve heard about those identity kits in Canada, but they don’t get pushed on us to the same degree. Kidnapping by stranger is even rarer in Canada than the U.S. (per capita, not just because of the population difference). Almost all the “missing kids” posters I see are situations where the non-custodial parent took the kids.

  48. Donna October 19, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    There is no purpose to fingerprinting or DNA tests other than to ID a body or I guess the rare instance of an unidentified person found roaming around that can’t tell you his/her name. I don’t think any missing child has ever been found (alive) based on his/her fingerprints. It is, however, kinda cool for some kids.

  49. Kim October 19, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    Yeah, Sky, they do sell those bracelets. My son has one because he is deaf and has cochlear implants. If there is ever an accident and he is unable to speak, the bracelet will speak for him, letting people know not only who he is, but that he has implants and if they do an MRI on him it will fry his brain and kill him. Not good! He doesn’t go anywhere without his bracelet.

  50. Gary October 19, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    How about we fingerprint EVERY kid when they enter kindergarden, and then REMIND them that their PERMANENT RECORD has their fingerprints and if they EVER do anything wrong we will GET THEM!

    I must have a small fascist living somewhere in one of my brain cells to even THINK that. Here in Cali. to get a drivers license one must give a print, to work in a school and probably several dozen or hundred other things. But to let my KIDS DNA or FINGERPRINTS get into one of those DATABASES??? And for what? Identifying the body? They use dental records don’t they?

  51. Lori October 19, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    These things come home all the time in bags from “safety” events and such. I just throw them away. Much more useful are the ID stickers you place on the back/bottom of your child’s carseat. If you are ever in an accident and are injured and can’t speak, responders know who your children are and where they belong.

  52. Bronte October 19, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    This is great from The Onion.
    Sadly, not everyone will get the joke.

  53. Jen Connelly October 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    I was fingerprinted every year when I was in grade school back in the early 80s. I remember the ink and that icky goo that you had to use to wash it off and it never got all the ink off and we ended up getting it on our uniforms. I was in 2nd grade the first time I was fingerprinted and it was just a normal part of the school year.
    Lifetouch (that do school photos) gives an ID card that you can fill in your kids’ info on the back and it has their school picture on the front to keep in your wallet.
    And when I was living in Chicago our district gave out ID cards with a snapshot of your kids with their full name and it had a digital capture of their fingerprint on the back. We had to sign papers for it and I always did, mostly because the kids thought it was neat to have their own ID (they are like credit cards).
    I never really thought much of it.

  54. Kacey October 19, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    Like many others, I have often wondered how long it will take before we start to implant microchips in our kids just like I did for my dog & cat (it’s required in the EU for all pets). Then I remembered my mother-in-law telling us that’s a sign of the beast. Yeah, she’s a bit off her rocker, but she’s not the only one to believe that. So, I don’t think it will go that far Fingerprinting, it seems, is next to godliness.

  55. Frau_Mahlzahn October 19, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    This is sick — but also a convenient way to collect data and fingerprints… I mean, does the police grant you that the record of the fingerprints will not be used for other purposes along the lines of Big Brother is watching you?

    So long,

  56. Rich Wilson October 19, 2010 at 2:32 pm #


    The fingerprints and DNA are not saved. The cops give you the entire package and keep none of it. I know people don’t always do what they say, but I really don’t think they care to collect finger prints of kids.

  57. Linda Wightman October 19, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    Here’s a new wrinkle for you: I just learned from a friend who is a teacher that his school (upper level) makes the students sign in every day via a fingerprint reader! Maybe it’s because we’re in the Land of The Mouse, and Disney uses those readers all the time, but it still strikes me as absurd.

  58. Tara October 19, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    My kids like having the ID card that came with their picture package. I think it’s a good idea; accidents happen. However, I do think that taking them down to the police station to be finger printed is taking it a little far!

  59. crowjoy October 19, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    We started getting these cards when the kids went to school too, which I think is entirely too late. The only way I can personally conceive of such a thing being useful is when the kidlets are too little to reliably tell you their name or mom’s name or where they’re from, etc. I think of those poor toddlers after Katrina who couldn’t say who they belonged to. But by the time my kids were in pre-k not only could they tell you their name and entire life history, they could tell you a good bit about MY life history (which they always did in the most inconvenient situations, naturally.) So yeah, if the child can speak and be comprehended, the prints are only for IDing bodies. Shudder.

  60. Karin October 19, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    I am not as bothered by this. Back in the 70’s they took our finger prints too. I also remember on TV little ads “It’s 11:00, do you know where your children are”. I was not traumatized by either of these.

  61. Uly October 19, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    I was in Burger King yesterday with my kiddos and saw a drop box to sign up for and receive a free Child Safe Kit. The sign above said “800,000 children are abducted every year!” Give me a break. Who would even believe such a number?

    Oh, it might be true, but notice they gave no further information – as in WHERE the children are from (is this worldwide, just in North America, just in the US…?), who’s doing the abducting (parents, almost all the time, followed by other relatives), what constitutes an abduction (does a parent taking a kid out of foster care count? Why yes, yes it does!), whether or not these numbers are adjusted for false positives (an “abduction” that’s really “a kid ran away with his girlfriend”, an “abduction” that turns out to be “mom didn’t realize Dad picked up the kids early from school”), and of course, how many of those children are recovered safe and sound, and how long it takes, on average.

    So yeah, that number might be true… but if it is, it’s still useless.

  62. thinkbannedthoughts October 19, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    My husband remembers being finger printed in school. I wasn’t for some reason. (My parents probably kept me out that day.) Now the Museum of Nature and Science in our nearest major city has an exhibit where they take DNA swaps of children – “for fun”. Call me paranoid, but I assume all this information goes into a government database, not so they can find our abducted children, though they might use it that way in the rare case that they need to, but so that they can use it to identify our children should they ever make a mistake that puts them on the wrong side of the law.
    My husband definitely felt that way when they fingerprinted him. He has told me repeatedly about feeling criminalized by the process, not protected.

  63. Amy October 19, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    About a year ago a police officer who was a patient at the clinic where I worked was handing out envelopes with DNA kits -a little que tip to swab your child’s mouth and get their DNA to then give to the police station and, I think, one you could keep in your freezer -all for corpse or body identification. I thought it was strange and didn’t participate.
    Besides, giving DNA information to the police is not exactly a guarantee that it will not be used for other purposes.

  64. Larry Harrison October 19, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    Makes me somewhat glad I moved out of Tucson, AZ.

    Which, in fact, brings me to something I observed: Lenore, in the original post, you mis-spelled Tucson as Tuscon (a transversal). A lot of people do that (I experienced that when I lived there from 1996-2006). Not trying to be the grammar police on you, just letting you know.

  65. Dee October 19, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

    “They use dental records don’t they?”

    I thought dental records were only really useful identification if you’ve have identifiable dental work done (fillings in cavities and such) and x-rays taken afterward.

    Kids’ teeth are still changing from ages 6-17ish; if they haven’t had fillings done and have lost or gained teeth since the last x-ray, I suspect that the dental records would be not quite dependable for identification.

  66. pentamom October 19, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    This is another one of those cases where the thing-in-itself isn’t so bad, but the reason being promoted is annoying. Like the kids’ pics on Facebook — people have all sorts of reasons why they may not do it, many of which are legitimate (even if everyone doesn’t share them) but fear of it causing actual harm (in the sense of a person coming to do them harm) is ridiculous.

    So, if you want your kid fingerprinted because they think it’s fun, because you consider it a convenience should anything horrible happen, or whatever, it’s not terrible to get your kid fingerprinted. But it’s just plain silly to 1) be so paranoid about something happening to your kid that you think it’s an absolute necessity or 2) think it’s actually going to protect them from something.

  67. baby-paramedic October 20, 2010 at 1:42 am #

    I dunno, everyone coming with little nametags would make my life easier 😉

    It is frustrating trying to get a name out of people, ESPECIALLY little kids or ones who are badly hurt. Also means we have to tie up the police whilst they try to ID the patient.

    On the rational side, I’ve seen CONSIDERABLY more intact kids capable of telling me their name 😉

  68. Marta October 20, 2010 at 2:23 am #

    What I think people don’t realize is that there is a much greater chance of their child perishing in a fatal car accident than the child getting abducted; unless it is the middle of winter or an exceedingly long distance, it is technically safer to walk than to be driven.

  69. Cindy October 20, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    I just tape a bunch of their hair on the card for DNA evidence. It’s more reliable. What if the predator cuts off their fingers and toes? Or what if my child commits a crime and the prints match up?

    I’m kidding. You know.

  70. Nok October 20, 2010 at 4:56 am #

    “Call me paranoid, but I assume all this information goes into a government database, not so they can find our abducted children, though they might use it that way in the rare case that they need to, but so that they can use it to identify our children should they ever make a mistake that puts them on the wrong side of the law.”

    Um if my kid ever makes a mistake that puts them far enough on the wrong side of the law to require DNA evidence they can just sit their happy butt in jail. Do you realize DNA testing is expensive and almost exclusively used for rape or murder cases? Real life isn’t like the CSI franchise.

  71. SKL October 20, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    I could be paranoid, but I just feel there might be an underlying reason for the encouragement of this trend. Get people used to the idea that being fingerprinted is a routine and benign if not wise thing. And then they will have everyone do it electronically. Pretty soon it will be required. And everyone will have their fingerprints in a database. Which can easily be misused in a variety of ways. No thanks.

    For the record, I’ve been fingerprinted at least twice in order to qualify to adopt my kids. (And been through various other varieties of virtual colonoscopy.) But, if I still had a choice, I’d say: I have no intentions of committing any crimes and therefore there is no need for the police / feds to have my fingerprints.

  72. Kaylara October 21, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    I went to grade school in the 80’s (as I’m nearly 30 now) and they finger printed us when they took our pictures too. I never thought anything of it, honestly.

  73. Gail October 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

    It was just thus stuff that set me on the free range path when my older son was a baby. We took him to a baseball game – he must have been about 3 months old – and there was a safety awareness table set up right outside the family section, manned by officers from all levels of police (municipal, provincial and RCMP). I managed to catch them at a quiet moment and asked exactly what the id kits were for. They beat around the bush a bit but when I summarized as “so it’s to help identify a body but will do nohing to help you find my child” they fessed up. I then asked, fairly bluntly, what the real risk of stranger abduction was and whether people were being paranoid or were right to worry about it. I was told it was definitely paranoia and they proceeded to back that up with numbers.

    And, voilà, a free range parent is born! This was over nine years ago btw, the term hadn’t even been invented yet.

  74. Juliet October 21, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    Someone I know here in town sells those child ID kits to the schools. Seems like a good moneymaker for them and they give the fear hard-sell to the schools who turn around and do it to the parents. The kit from the woman I know also features DNA swab that you’re supposed to store in your freezer.

    I will say….my daughter was “lost” temporarily at the San Diego Zoo this summer and props to the zoo for having a good emergency plan in place. You can tell an employee that your child is lost and they radio over to the exit gates of the zoo with the description. I *knew* she was just lost (she had lingered and got left behind at the polar bears) but it did feel good to know that worst case scenario, she was in a relatively controlled environment.

    After that someone told me advice that I think is good for amusement parks etc – write your cell ph # in Sharpie on your kid’s arm, and if they are separated from you, whoever finds them can call. A woman ended up staying with my lost daughter (age 4) and it was pretty funny to hear the descriptions of us that our 4 yr old gave.

  75. Adriana October 23, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    My 9yr old son was lost yesterday in Disneyland. I was glad that I had taken a photo of him earlier in the day because it helped security know who they were looking for- clothes, hair etc. It’s better than just a description.
    In the end everything ended well- he actually did what he was supposed to do- only we didn’t realize it. I actually feel better now letting them go off knowing that they do know exactly what to do.
    However, he still doesn’t know our cell phone numbers so I think I will be putting a paper or something in their pockets so they have it- just in case.

  76. Kimberly October 23, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Adriana – My dad used to take stationary from our hotel and safety pin it into a pocket before we went out for the day. That way if we got separated especially on public transit, we could show it to a police officer or other official to get back to the hotel.

    Houston doesn’t have public transit to speak of, so that was often the new and little bit scary thing.

  77. kim October 27, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    ok, so this doesn’t have anything to do with fingerprints, but I just returned from dropping my son at Kindergarten. Apparently, there was a lice incident in his class yesterday and we were told to put all the backpacks and jackets in garbage bags to separate them from the others. Ok. So, i offered to stay and do a lice check ( I am a peds nurse) and was told that would invade the children’s privacy and that the schools no longer do lice checks. Hmmmmm? Seems like you might want to nip that in the bud. There is a confidentiality clause that prohibits me (a parent) from knowing that a kid has lice. Since when is lice such a big deal? If we stigmatize it as a big deal aren’t we doing a big injustice?

  78. Linda Wightman October 28, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    Well, *I* thought it was a big deal when our child had lice, and never want to go through that again. I was grateful to the schools for being alert to the problem and doing lice checks as needed. (Not so grateful that they encouraged the children to share headphones, though.)

  79. Kimberly Herbert October 28, 2010 at 4:18 am #

    That was silly of the school. You are an RN and bound by HIPA. We no longer do Friday lice checks, thank godness because that was a huge waste of my teaching time. If there are kids with them, we make sure kids don’t put head togehter or use pillows together.

    BTW – for other lice are spread by head to head contact mostly. They die pretty quickly if not on a person. I let my students bring their own headphones/earbuds to use with class equipment. They like that better than sharing.

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