Fingerprints On File Could Save Your Child's Life - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/24/05

Fingerprints On File Could Save Your Child's Life

Every 40 seconds, a child in the United States is listed as missing or abducted. That means in the time it takes you to watch a WLOX newscast, the parents of more than 53 children will be affected.

The case of the Florida third-grader, Jessica Lunsford, whose body was found Saturday after being abducted from her home last month has many parents on guard.

Wednesday, deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department were at the YMCA to fingerprint children. L.J. Finney and his cousin Nathan were the first in line.

With so many child abductions in the news, their aunt Mindy Pizetta wanted to do something to protect her nephews.

"It's very scary to think something like that would happen. And to think we have this type of thing in place to ensure our children's safety is wonderful."

Each child's prints are put onto small white cards and sent home with a note asking parents to attach a photo.

"If something were to happen to the child, then they could bring this straight to the Sheriff's Department, and we could take it from there and possibly track the child with the fingerprints," said Valerie Damazio with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

When dealing with child abductions, deputies say every second is crucial. Finding and matching prints at potential crime scenes or places a missing child might have been can be a vital clue.

"Fingerprints are distinct to that person. Fingerprints never change. So you or me, nobody's going to have the same prints we got," said Virgil Moore of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

Vanessa Mobley works at a day care in Moss Point. She had the entire group of children fingerprinted.

"I think it's an excellent idea that they fingerprint them so they can have something on file to help them identify them or find them quicker."

In a situation where seconds can be the difference between life and death, saving time can mean saving a life.

"I strongly urge all parents to have their child's fingerprints done," Damazio said.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children more than 300 children are kidnapped in the U.S. each year.

by Josh Ridgdell

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