South Carolina lawmakers promote biometrics to help find missing kids
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and Senator Katrina Shealy are backing a biometric ID program aimed at helping families find missing children.
The National Child Identification Program (NCIP) offers biometric sample capture kits to parents to assist in locating missing children. As per the Child ID law (Act 180 of 2022), schools must inform parents or guardians about these kits and provide them upon request.
Starting in March, South Carolina Child ID kits were distributed to every school district in the state. This distribution was made possible through a partnership with the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) and grant support from Duke Energy and Dominion Energy.
Wilson and Shealy recently spoke at a University of South Carolina event, emphasizing the significance of these kits for families across the state. In South Carolina, eleven children go missing daily, and many become victims of human trafficking.
The NCIP provides parents with an inkless kit that can collect biometric information such as fingerprints, saliva and DNA from their children. The kit also records physical characteristics like height, weight, eye color and hair color. It also includes an area to store a recent photograph of the child.
The two politicians emphasized that the kits would not be stored in a central database but rather in a secure and dry location within the family’s residence.
According to Kenny Hansmire, executive director of NCIP, if parents store the packet in a dry area away from sunlight, the DNA can remain valid for up to 50 years.
Shealy says that having access to this information could be invaluable and potentially save lives if something were to happen: “If it would happen that your child would go missing, you could pull this information out and take it to the sheriff’s department or wherever so they can find your child.”
Hansmire notes that having the kit in place means families don’t have to spend precious time filling out forms when a child goes missing: “This is a gift of safety from the state of South Carolina and the AG’s office to parents to save time. Forty percent of the information on this ID kit is what law enforcement will ask when you report your child missing.”
Wilson adds that since he took office, numerous task forces within the state have grown significantly, including the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which now has 125 members. He emphasizes that communication with children about strangers is essential, but families should also be prepared if their “worst nightmare” becomes a reality:
“It’s an extra tool to give parents so they can help law enforcement recover their child more quickly because at that point, every second matters.”
With the help of the NCIP kit, Wilson and Shealy say they hope to help provide South Carolina families with peace of mind in an emergency situation.