Program aims to assist in recovery of lost childrenPublished 12:01pm Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Approximately 800,000 children younger than 18 were reported missing in a year, according to the most recent comprehensive national study through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Thanks to an upcoming event, more local children have the opportunity to avoid such a tragedy.
Ware Lodge No. 435 will have a Child Identification Program April 13 at no cost to parents.
“This will be the information that law enforcement and media need to speed up recovery of a child,” said DeWayne Nichols, Lodge member who is organizing the event.
The program will be held at First United Methodist Church in the fellowship hall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We are hopefully going to have eight machines,” Nichols said. “I’m hoping for between 300-500 children to participate.”
At the event, workers will conduct electronic fingerprinting of each child, take pictures, video the child answer pre-selected questions and have parents/guardians fill out a form with pertinent information including facial features, hair and eye color, scars and contact information.
Nichols offered a reassurance for those who might be concerned about the security of the program.
“All (the photos, video, information and fingerprint scan) will be burned onto a compact disc,” Nichols said. “The program we use has no ability to store information … The child’s information is completely erased.”
There is no age limit on children who can participate, although Nichols said they are targeting preferably children who can speak, since there is a video portion to document what the child’s voice sounds like.
“Also if you have an elderly parent or grandparent, especially a parent with Alzheimer’s disease, we would be happy to do it for them too,” Nichols said.
The Child Identification Program is a new initiative of the Grand Lodge of Alabama this year, Nichols said.
“They’re asking each lodge to do it at least once to get a feel for how the community feels about it,” Nichols said.
Completing the program takes 10–15 minutes per child. Parents can also fill out some information beforehand to bring to the event with forms available at www.alchip.org.
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