Should You Fingerprint Your Kids for Protection?
Many parents take precautions for the physical safety of their children—such as car seats, seatbelts, helmets, and training wheels. Many also protect their children from possible abductions by teaching them to never talk to, get in the car with, or accept anything from, strangers. But what recourse does a parent have if the unthinkable happens—if a child is kidnapped, or goes missing?
Law enforcement professionals advise parents to fingerprint their children so that they can be identified when found. Because a child’s appearance will change even in a short time, fingerprinting can be the best way to identify a missing child.
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Where to Get a Fingerprinting Kit
Contact your local police department to ask if the department provides home fingerprinting kits. Some departments will fingerprint your child for you instead of issuing a home fingerprinting kit. If your local police department does neither, you can easily find fingerprint kits for sale online. YourSafeChild offers inexpensive child fingerprinting kits for under $5, as well as materials for keeping dental and other records. Fingerprint America also provides fingerprinting and other child identification materials as well as information on what kinds of records parents should keep for their children.
How to Fingerprint Your Child
Whether you obtain a kit from a police department or purchase it yourself online, the kit should come with detailed instructions for taking fingerprints effectively. Purchase a kit that has room to record an entire handprint, so that each fingerprint can be identified. Have your child press his or her hand onto the inkpad (most kits use nontoxic ink) and then press the hand onto the fingerprint card.
Be careful not to get too much ink on the finger or hand, as this will not produce a well-defined fingerprint. Also be sure not to smudge the fingerprint, or this will make it unusable.
If your child is two years old or younger, ask your local law enforcement if it would be better to take a palm or footprint, as your child’s fingerprints may not be fully developed.
Though a person’s fingerprints remain constant throughout life, the print becomes more well-defined as a child ages, so re-taking your child’s fingerprints as they get older will ensure that you have the clearest print for your records. Once a child reaches age 10, his fingerprints will be fully defined, so there is no need to repeat fingerprinting after this age.
Other Materials for Your Records
In addition to fingerprints, consider keeping a file with recent photos of your child that clearly show his or her facial features. Keep records of distinguishing features, scars, or marks that could identify your child. Police departments often also recommend keeping a few strands of children’s hair for DNA testing.