MoCHIP event to be hosted at MHS in April
Whenever the morning news brings a story of a missing child, or the gut wrenching “Amber Alert” sounds in the middle of the night, the terrifying possibility of abduction fills the minds of parents everywhere. While it is important to remember that most kids pass through childhood safely, taking steps to ensure that your child will be found as quickly as possible – in the event that they do go missing or are abducted – can be the difference between a happy ending and the worst case scenario.
If your child should ever end up in a situation where time is crucial, the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children (NCMEC) states that a good quality photo is the single most effective tool in locating a missing child.
The Missouri Masonic Children’s Foundation and Marshall Public School’s Parents As Teachers have teamed up to host a MoCHIP event at Marshall High School, Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is scheduled to help parents assemble all the vital information they would need in the event of a missing child.
According to the MoCHIP website, MoCHIP stands for Missouri Child Identification and Protection program, and does not include the use of microchips or any other invasive “chips.”
The program consists of five major components – digital photographs, digital fingerprints, child information and emergency contacts, dental bite impressions and two laminated ID cards. MoCHIP will process any child under the age of 21.
“All we are going to do is take a dental impression, a picture and a DNA swab in the cheek of their mouth,” Missouri Masonic Children’s Foundation contact Adam Shaw said.
The digital photographs and fingerprints, as well as the child’s information and emergency contacts are given to the child’s parent or guardian on a mini-CD computer disk.
The information on the disk is compatible with the format required by the “Amber Alert” program.
“If something was to happen – which hopefully it never does – parents can just take that disk out and give it to the police. The police will set it up with their system, plug it in, and an “Amber Alert” goes out immediately,” Shaw added.
According to a MoCHIP brochure, the dental bite wafer provides an impression of the biting surface of the child’s teeth, which, like fingerprints, are unique to each individual. The DNA swab is used to acquire saliva, in order to provide a DNA sample and a source for a scent for trained canine search and recovery teams.
On the day of the event, Freemasons set up equipment and enlist the aid of local volunteers as necessary to generate the completed child identification kits.
Shaw said the process doesn’t take long – 10 to 15 minutes – if parents fill out forms ahead of time.
“It’s not really too time consuming per kid,” he said. “Basically if they don’t fill it out beforehand, they will come in, get in line and have to fill it out there, and that takes a little time. The more people that fill out there, the longer the line is, then it will take longer.”
Parents can print and fill out forms ahead of time by visiting http://mochip.org.
The Masonic Children’s Foundation’s MoCHIP is provided free of charge to the public. After each MoCHIP event, the brochure states that individual computers are wiped clean of all gathered information using specialized software, after which the private, password-protected MoCHIP server undergoes a three-phase specialized deletion process to obliterate all files collected that day. All of the identifying information collected at the event about the child is given to the child’s family. The MCF does retain the permission slip that must be signed prior to participation in the event.
Shaw said 5,000 people have been invited to the event, including every child in Saline County.
According to NCMEC, 2,000 children are reported missing or abducted every single day in the United States. While no one wants to think that the unimaginable could happen to them, gathering all of the information law enforcement officials would need in the event of a missing child ahead of time, can save parents from unnecessary complications in the future.