When speaking to parents about child identification, the first things that come to mind are fingerprints and DNA information. However, there seems to be a complete lack of awareness regarding fingerprints and the crucial need in updating them on a regular basis.
Most parents, with the exception of people who have studied medicine or criminology, believe that their children’s fingerprints remain the same from birth to death.
We all believe our fingerprints to be as permanent as a tiger’s stripes since they are formed before our birth, while in the womb. Though this is absolutely correct, here is the kicker; children’s fingerprints are actually changing for the first five to seven years of their life.
The easiest way to explain this contradiction to you is with the following example; picture an under-inflated balloon with a picture on its surface, as this under-inflated balloon has air added to it, the picture becomes larger and becomes somewhat distorted.
With this in mind, think about the size of a newborn’s fingers. Pretty darn tiny!
On average it takes children approximately eighteen to twenty one months before their very tiny fingerprints have developed enough to be of any use. We have all heard the expression “As smooth as a baby’s bottom” this also applies to fingers!
That is why footprints are taken for children younger than twenty-one months of age.
Now getting back to our “balloon”, think of your child’s fingerprints as the picture on the balloon, as they grow older, their fingerprints, though they are actually changing, remain the same. One thing to keep in mind is that as your children grow older, their fingerprints might also change due to their skin’s flexibility and also due to disfiguration caused by a scar(s).
When studying fingerprints, the authorities use certain identifying features or characteristic points: ridge endings, dots and bifurcations, in order to make a positive identification. With every passing year of your child’s life, their fingers are growing in size, and these characteristic points become more pronounced, it becomes easier for the authorities to read your child’s fingerprints.
For this reason, it is your task, as a responsible parent to update your child’s fingerprints at least once a year. The thought of the fingerprints ever becoming useful is in itself a bone chilling one, for they are only used after the unimaginable has happened, passive identification. However, if needed, do you not want to provide the authorities with your child’s the most accurate and easiest to distinguish identification?
Our next tidbit of advice is on the location in which parents keep their children’s fingerprints. We recommend you keep them in a Ziploc baggie in the bottom of the freezer.
Here are some of the reasons for this suggestion:
– Your children do not play in the freezer and other than food nothing is kept in the freezer, therefore, you will always know exactly where they are.
– If you are not at home, you can easily direct a babysitter or neighbor to your freezer.
– Unlike a bank safety deposit box, you always have access to your freezer.
– Unlike a home safe or strong box, if in a state of panic, you don’t have to try and remember a four, five or six digit combination, or try to explain to a babysitter how to open your safe.
Our logic behind this suggestion is; should the unthinkable ever happen, the minute the authorities knock on your door, you want to have your child’s identification/fingerprint kit in their hands. Time is of the essence; you do not want to be tearing the house apart trying to remember where your child’s fingerprints are.
Last tidbit; when leaving town on holidays, don’t forget to pack your children’s identification kit. Once again if something ever happened, your kids identification will not be of much use, two thousand miles away in your freezer.
Our fingerprints are completely unique, one of a kind! Identical twins do not have the same fingerprints, although they do share the same DNA.
Keep in mind, as you are now aware, fingerprints and DNA information will only ever be used after something happens. When looking for a Child ID provider, please remember the old adage “an ounce of prevention far outweighs a pound of cure”, think “proactive”.