It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: a child goes missing and sets off a frantic search amid fears that he or she has been abducted.
Such a scenario is not that uncommon in this day and age, which has prompted a local veterans group to partner with the Mount Airy Police Department to offer a tool later this month which could be extremely helpful in emergencies.
This involves free ChildPrint ID kits that will be given to parents on Aug. 14 at Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street, through an effort sponsored by American Legion Post 123 based there.
Personnel with the community policing unit of the city police department will conduct the distribution from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the bingo building, which is located on the right side of the park access road near the front entrance.
“They’re going to supply the kits and talk to the parents,” Jerry Estes of the American Legion said of a campaign being conducted for the first time.
“We’re just concerned about our young folks,” Estes added in explaining the group’s motivation for spearheading the distribution. “We want to make sure they get to be old folks.”
Wealth of data
At first glance, the ChildPrint ID kit appears to be a small booklet about the size of a greeting card, which is contained in a protective plastic sheath.
A further look reveals mechanisms for assembling and storing a wealth of information that could mean the difference between life and death if a child goes missing.
“It’s one of the most-detailed kits I have seen,” said city Community Police Officer Gerald Daniel, who will participate in the upcoming distribution, “one of the best kits.”
Materials are provided to easily allow parents to obtain fingerprints of children, along with DNA samples including strands of hair or swabs, dental charts and photographs. The kits further include space for listing a child’s physical characteristics along with personal and medical information.
Child safety tips also are offered, as are instructions to guide parents in the event a child becomes missing.
That is a critical juncture where Officer Daniel sees the kits playing a vital role.
Having the fingerprint, DNA and other materials already compiled can be a big help as opposed to forcing parents to supply those while in crisis mode, he agreed.
“I’ve got kids and if one of them went missing, I would be worried to death and I would not be in a mood to answer questions,” Daniel said of the resulting investigative process.
A child being lost or kidnapped is something most parents thankfully will never be forced to endure from a statistical standpoint.
“God forbid if your child did go missing, that makes things a lot quicker,” Daniel said of having pictures, fingerprints and other pertinent data on hand to aid law enforcement officers.
“In that situation, you’re not going to be in a position to make decisions.”
Estes, the American Legion representative, is urging parents to obtain the free child ID kits and to spread the word to make sure everyone is aware of a program that could pay huge dividends down the road.
“My personal feeling is if it saves one kid, it’s worth it,” he said.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.