Fingerprinting Kids Essay Research Paper Shouldparents voluntarily

Fingerprinting Kids Essay, Research Paper


parents voluntarily create detailed identification

records(including fingerprints) on their children in

anticipation of possiblerunaway problems or abductions?

(1) Yes. You can never tell when terriblethings will happen

to a child, so its best to be prepared. (2) No. Thevast

majority of missing children are not abducted. Whether

abducted ornot, fingerprinting will do no good. It wastes

time and money and pushesus that much closer to the

creation of the Orwellian National Data Centerthat

Congress rejected fifteen years ago. BACKGROUND: As

of early 1983, 11 states had launched programs

tofingerprint children.( These were New York, Virginia,

Florida, Georgia, NewJersey, California, Pennsylvania,

Massachusetts, Nebraska, Connecticut,Rhode Island,

Kansas, Illinois, and Indiana.) Most of this activity

wasstimulated by the passage of the Missing Children Act

in October 1982.What the new law did was to legitimize

the use of the FBI’s nationalcomputer network,the National

Crime Information Center (NCIC) fornon-criminal

purposes. All of the programs are voluntary. In some cases

the policedepartments retain the records, while in others the

fingerprint cards areturned over to the parents for

safekeeping. The apparent purpose of theprogram is to

help provide positive identification to link either children

picked up, or bodies recovered, with missing person

notices. Every year about 1 million children are reported

missing. Of thesemost, about 800,000, are away from

home for less than two weeks. About150,000 of the total

missing are abducted; of these two thirds are abductedby a

divorced parent. Some of the reasons behind the missing

children are not pretty.According to an article in Parade,

"about 35 percent of runaways leave homebecause of

incest, 53 percent because of physical neglect. The rest

are"throwaways," children kicked out or simply abandoned

by parents who moveaway. Every state has laws against

incest, child abuse, abandonment, childpornography and

the procuring of children, but they are rarely enforced."

POINT: Conscientious parents should have their childrens’

fingerprintsrecorded to help in the event of an abduction;

they shouldn’t wait until aftersomething terrible happens, but

should take reasonable steps now. Thousands of children

are runaways, and in many cases it is all butimpossible to

determine clearly who they really are. People change,

butfingerprints don’t. Well-intentioned but misguided civil

libertarians worryabout Big Brother. But they tend to

overlook the obvious benefits of theprogram and

concentrate on wildly imaginative fantasies about Big

Brother.If they would come down to earth once in a while,

and visit with and sharethe anguish of a family of an

abducted child, they would quickly changetheir attitudes.

Besides, in most cases the police do not keep the

records,the parents do. COUNTERPOINT: Absent some

showing that the fingerprinting will actuallyhelp keep

children safe and help capture criminals who harm or

abduct them,parents should refuse to have their children

fingerprinted. In promotingthe child fingerprinting program,

police officials tend to be vague abouthow the program will

increase the average child’s safety. How does itimprove

children’s safety to be fingerprinted? Surely, it may help

identify a body, but that is not much help. Besides, dental

records do thesame thing and probably do a better job.

People forget that this program isgeared to eventually

entering the child’s identification data into theNational

Crime Information Center. That is a criminal records

databank, andit could be very harmful to a child in the

future to have what manyemployers will automatically take

to be a "criminal record." And that isnot far fetched. In

April 1983 the Congress’ General Accounting

Officereleased a report saying that in some states children

picked up as runawaysare jailed along with real criminals.

GAO found that in five states(Virginia, Massachusetts,

New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Oregon) 39percent

of the juveniles incarcerated had not been charged with a

seriousoffense, despite federal standards requiring that.

Running away from home,shoplifting and other minor thefts

made up most of the offenses. Evenadvocates admit to the

possibility of a stigma. A PTA Council President in Virginia

spoke out in favor of theprogram: "I can’t think at this point

of a practical reason for not havingyour fingerprints taken.

It seems to me the higher the percentage of thepopulation

that has its fingerprints on file, the less stigma will

beattached to it." Another mother, as her child was being

fingerprinted, told a NewYork Times reporter, "Unless

you’re planning a life of crime for yourchild,I can’t see why

any parent would object." If we are really serious about

reducing the runaway problem, weshould demand that our

police officials start looking closely into thefamily situations

from which the runaway came from. If there is evidenceof

incest or abuse, the offendor should be prosecuted. Maybe

if moreabusive parents got that message, they would be

less inclined to do the things that cause the vast majority of

runaway cases in the first place. QUESTIONS:o Do you

think that the police will be more effective in locating

missingchildren if there are copies of their fingerprints on

record?o Do you think that there is any problem with

having your own recordsstored in a criminal record

computer system? Would anyone assume from

suchrecords that you have done something wrong?o If a

child runs away from home because of incest or physical

abuse,should the police help put him back in that home?o

Do you think that the voluntary fingerprinting program will

make the nextgeneration of American citizens less reluctant

to let government keep morerecords on them? Or will it

have the opposite effect and make people usedto having

this kind of record kept? REFERENCES: Fingerprinting of

Children Spreading, New York Times,February 22, 1983

Fingerprinting the Kids Won’t Solve the Problem, The

FairfaxJournal (editorial), April 15, 1983, p.A6 Reston

Kids Ink Up for Fingerprints, Adrian Higgins, TheFairfax

Journal, September 19, 1983, p.A1 Jersey County

Fingerprints Pupils, Franklin Whitehouse, TheNew York

Times, January 26, 1983, p.B1 Alexandria Cops To

Fingerprint School Kids, Joe O’Neill, TheFairfax Journal,

February 23, 1983, p.A4 Child Abductions A Rising

Concern, Associated Press, The NewYork Times,

December 5, 1983 Finding Missing Children, The

Washington Post (editorial),May 28, 1982



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