Fingerprints give parents tools to help locate missing children
April 21, 2011
- Child fingerprinting kits available Friday at Main Post PX from 2-4 p.m.
FORT BENNING, Ga. - Roughly 800,000 children in the U.S. are reported missing each year, according to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Of that number, an estimated 450,000 run away, 200,000 are abducted by family members and 115 are kidnapped by strangers with the intention of killing them, holding them for ransom or keeping them permanently.
Child fingerprinting is one tool law enforcement authorities can use to help locate missing children.
As National Missing Children's Day approaches next month, Fort Benning's Army Community Service is encouraging parents to bring their children to the Main Post PX Friday between 2 and 4 p.m. to complete a fingerprint identification kit. The kits are free and take only a few minutes to complete. Parents can also complete the kit at home. They come with goodie bags that include Frisbees, water bottles and other items.
Parents keep the fingerprint identification kit and can use it to help in an investigation if their child is lost or kidnapped, said Family Advocacy Program manager Becky Welch.
The event is part of FAP's month-long offering of programs aimed at child safety and child abuse prevention.
Because fingerprints are composed of a combination of ridges unique to each person's fingers, they can yield positive identification of a person.
Parents of young children get a big benefit from fingerprinting.
"Some parents may think (fingerprint records) are unnecessary until a child reaches school age, but it's important for toddlers too. Whether kids are at school or at home, there's a risk. Anything can happen, from a toddler wandering off to a child being kidnapped," Welch said. "It's another safety measure parents can take, just like making sure your child has a car seat."
With each kit comes a packet with safety tips and tools aimed at preventing abduction and establishing routines that could make a difference if your child goes missing.
Unique fingerprints are formed seven months after conception. The size of each finger will continue to grow from childhood to adulthood but the relative position of ridges will remain the same, according to the National Child Identification Program.
Experts recommend parents make prints of their child's fingerprints every six to nine months until the child reaches 10, however even an outdated set of prints is helpful in an investigation.
Another simple step parents can take is to have an up-to-date photograph of the child in case it's ever needed by law enforcement.
FAP anticipates hundreds of families will show up for tomorrow's event but said the kits are available year-round.
For more information, call the Family Advocacy Program office at 706-545-7594 or 706-626-2614.
A brief history of fingerprinting
The use of fingerprints goes back thousands of years. A brief synopsis of its history:
1000-2000 B.C. - Fingerprints are thought to have been used by ancient Babylonians during business transactions.
14th Century - Many official government documents in Persia have fingerprint impressions. One government physician makes the observation that no two fingerprints were an exact match.
1823 - A thesis published by Johannes Evenglista Purkinje details nine different fingerprint patterns.
1880 - Dr. Henry Faulds, a British surgeon, publishes an article discussing fingerprints as a means of personal identification and using printer's ink as a method for obtaining them.
1892 - An Argentine police official, Juan Vucetich, made the first criminal fingerprint identification in history by linking a bloody fingerprint on a doorpost to a woman who murdered her two sons. He eventually developed his own system of classification which is still used in Latin America today.
1902 - Alphonse Bertillon, director of the Paris Police's Bureau of Identification, is responsible for the first criminal identification of a fingerprint without a known suspect. A print taken from a crime scene was compared to fingerprints already on file and a match was made. In the U.S., the New York Civil Service Commission began instituting testing of the first systematic use of fingerprints in the country.
1903 - Fingerprint technology comes into widespread use in the U.S. as New York's police department and prison system and the Federal Bureau of Prisons begin working with the new science.
1911 - The first central storage location for fingerprints in North America is established in Ottawa, Canada, with 2,000 sets of fingerprints. The repository is maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and fingerprint sets number in the millions today.
1924 - The U.S. Congress acts to establish the identification division of the F.B.I. and consolidates two repositories to form its basis. By 1946, the F.B.I has processed 100 million fingerprint cards.
1990s - Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems begin widespread use around the country. This computerized system of storing and cross-referencing criminal fingerprint records would eventually become capable of searching millions of fingerprint files in minutes.
1999 - The F.B.I. phases out paper fingerprint cards for criminals and replaces them with a computerized version with their new Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System site in Clarksburg, W.V.
Source: Fingerprint America