From the corridors of power:
I have a great idea. That Devlin kidnapping and abuse case is so horrible, it will surely have parents freaking out. Let's tell them that we can keep their kids safer if they give us all of their biographical information and DNA. We can keep it in a database, just in case we ever need it.
Why would we ever need that kind of information?
Who knows? But it will let us track and find them whenever we feel the need.
Do you think parents will possibly buy into this kind of privacy invasion?
OK, run with it...
Devlin prompts kid IDs
By Betsy Taylor
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- In the months since two kidnapped Missouri boys were found alive, parents have been lining up for identification kits in case their own kids go missing.
And what was once a set of fingerprints inked on a card has evolved into a high-tech offering, where families can preserve digital photos, even a DNA sample, to give to authorities if a child should vanish. The identification kits are often provided for free by community, charitable or law enforcement organizations.
The safe return of Abby Woods, an infant kidnapped from her Franklin County home late last year, spurred some increased interest. But things really took off in January after police found Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby in the Kirkwood apartment of Michael Devlin. Devlin pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sexual abuse charges last week and received multiple life sentences.
Nick Cichielo is the state coordinator for the Missouri Child Identification Program (MoCHIP), run by the Masonic fraternity. He said demand for the program's free kits more than doubled in the past year, to 26,000.
"Right in January, after the abduction, it went through the ceiling," he said.
The MoCHIP program provides families with laminated ID cards and a computer disc that law enforcement agencies can read. The disc includes digital photos, digital fingerprints, child information and emergency contacts. The Masons also have children take a dental bite impression, which Cichielo said captures a DNA sample and can provide a source for scent, if needed by canine search teams.
The Shawn Hornbeck Foundation, formed after Shawn went missing in 2002 at age 11, now aids in the search for other missing children and also educates parents and children on ways to stay safe. The foundation has been distributing hard, plastic cards since 2003, which parents can carry in their wallets. They feature a digital head-and-shoulders shot of a child, along with identifying information.
"I would say prior to the boys coming home, we were doing a couple of events a month," said Sherri Martin, administrator for the foundation. "Now, we have events almost every weekend. We get more requests than we can handle.
"Martin said that to her knowledge, Shawn had not had a child ID kit when he went missing. She said providing the kits is important to both Shawn and his parents.
"Along with the blessing of the return of their son comes the responsibility to make sure no other child goes missing and to try and bring every last missing child home," she said.
Karl Lund, 32, of the St. Louis suburb of O'Fallon, recently had ID cards made up for his children, Nathan, 3, and Erin, 1, through the Hornbeck Foundation when his family attended a chili cookoff. Shawn and his parents helped to make the ID cards at the event.
"If the unthinkable happens, we have an identification card to hand off to officials," he said.
Lund said the abductions of Shawn and Ben made him realize something can happen to a child in a split second.
"This really brings it closer to home," he said.
Another program, sponsored by the American Football Coaches Association in partnership with the FBI, hands out ID kits to families at football games and other events.
Program officials haven't seen an uptick in interest related to the boys' recovery, but that could be in part to the sheer volume of kits they already hand out -- more than 3 million annually -- said Kenny Hansmire, executive director of the National Child ID program.
The kits allow parents to record inkless fingerprints. Parents use a moist wipe on their child's fingertips that reacts with the paper included in the kit to record fingerprints without using ink on the hands. They also give parents a swab to save a DNA sample.
FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said along with the kit, the organizations recommend that families update photos of children once a year.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why parents are so anxious to hand over their child's most sensitive information to the government. Does government give them such a high degree of confidence? Do they really believe that the government could never lose such information, or accidentally release it? Or perhaps use it for illegal or immoral ends?
Has our vitality as a society really ebbed to the point where the government is our lord and savior? If only Hitler or Stalin had this kind of information at their disposal...
Sorry for the heavy thoughts. I'm sure there's something good on T.V. to watch...