Fingerprint program boosts child safety

LIHU‘E — The student body of Olelo Christian Academy got fingerprinted, Friday.

Not only did the students get fingerprinted, their photos were taken and placed in an identification package as part of October being designated Child Safety Month.

The identification program was made possible when Kaua‘i Landscape Services stepped forward to sponsor the students who range from kindergarten through the 12th grade, said Robin Sanchez of The McGruff Safe Kids Total Identification System of Hawai‘i.

“We’ve had a few young people who have been reported missing over the past few weeks,” Sanchez said. “If they had these identification kits, their vital information could have been across the country in minutes.”

During the event, the students were welcomed by McGruff the Crime Dog before breaking up into two groups, one being processed for the student identification packages while the other were treated to a crime prevention education program which included Stranger Danger and Internet (and social media) Safety.

“The most recent statistics on child abductions are staggering,” Sanchez said. “According to the U.S. Department of Justice, every 40 seconds a child is reported missing or abducted in the country. That translates to more than 2,000 children per day and more than 800,000 a year. And it happens on Kaua‘i, too. We’ve had a few young people who have been reported missing.”

Sanchez said when a child is discovered missing, or is abducted, parents are distraught during the most critical period when information is needed.

“How can you remember what color eyes the child has?” Sanchez said. “You’re only worrying about the child’s safety.”

Sherri Sanchez Holcomb, the director of operations for McGruff Safe Kids TID Hawai‘i, said the identification package includes state of the art processing of two laminated child photo identification cards, one for each parent or guardian to keep in their wallets. Additionally, there is a large ID card with a color photo of the child, 10 digital fingerprints, and other vital information that can provide authorities with the single most useful tool in the recovery of a missing child.

“In a lot of incidents with missing young people, there are fingerprints,” Sanchez said. “Unfortunately, they aren’t always of thumbprints. This is why the McGruff ID system has 10 fingerprints, one for each finger.”

Sanchez said thanks to the sponsorship of Kaua‘i Landscape Services, all of the 16 students at Olelo Christian Academy could participate in getting the identification kits.

There are many families who need help in keeping their children safe and Kaua‘i Landscape Services would like to challenge other community organizations to help sponsor a child.

“It does not have to be a whole school, or class,” Sanchez said. “It could be just a few students. We need to be proactive in crime prevention and help keep our youth safe.”

For more information on the McGruff Safe Kids TID Hawai‘i, call 822-2151, or email rsanchez@mcgruff-tid.com.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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