By Jan Rahn
Students at Perkins County Middle School are among the most recent in Nebraska to become part of an identification program that might help save them should the unthinkable happen—abduction.
On Monday, fifth through eighth graders were added to a program developed to provide identification of a missing child.
Thanks to the Nebraska Freemasons Child Identification Program (CHIP) along with sponsorship from Adams Bank and Trust, parents of 110 kids in Perkins County gained a little peace of mind by entering their children in the program.
The bank has been instrumental in raising donations in the communities of Grant/Madrid, Imperial and Indianola to bring the program to area students. The CHIP program was offered to students in Imperial on March 21, followed by sessions in Indianola on March 25 and in Perkins County Schools on March 28.
In October, Alyssa Clark, financial service rep at Adams Bank in Imperial, began arrangements and fundraising to bring the program to the southwest part of the state. With assistance from Jill Barry of Adams Bank and Trust in Grant, the CHIP program reached students at the middle school in Perkins County.
The goal is to bring the program back each year to serve every child possible, said Clark.
The free program aids in the identification and recovery of missing children.
It allows parents the chance to create a kit of identifying materials for their child that includes a fingerprint card, a physical description, a video, computer disk, a dental imprint and a DNA sample—critical information that can be released to the public and law enforcement in the event that a child goes missing.
On average in the U.S., a child is reported missing every 43 seconds—most parents don’t have these items available at their fingertips to assist law enforcement in locating their missing child.
The CHIP kit provides these items, and the parents keep the kit in their possession. Only the permission form is retained by the Masons of Nebraska.
The Masonic Child ID Program operates with strict confidentiality, with all data on portable computers removed immediately after it has been written—unlike other agencies that typically place information into a database.
The program, which is staffed by volunteers, has been lauded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The videotape or DVD, besides capturing appearance and voice, includes questions tailored toward the child’s age group and can assist in finding children who might be missing for other reasons besides abduction.
Clark said in addition to the kit helping to identify a child, the photographs that are taken from four different angles would be helpful in reconstructive surgery should it be necessary.
In 2005, over 2,000 children were reported missing in Nebraska—1,000,000 are reported missing nationwide every year—that equates to 2,740 each day.
Thousands are abducted by family members, and thousands more by non-family members, the primary motive for which is sexual.
What is CHIP?
The Masonic CHIP kit is the most comprehensive service of its kind anywhere.
The program, which began in New York in 1994, is being offered by Masons in 20 states.
It provides a videotaped interview, fingerprints, toothprints, DNA cheek swab and still photograph.
CHIP is provided at no charge to the public and all of the identifying items generated during CHIP are given to the child’s family.
CHIP kits have been generated for children and college students aged 0-21 in Nebraska, as well as senior citizens residing in an Alzheimer’s care facility.
Children of any age are at risk of abduction. As they get older, kids tend to think their risk decreases, that is not the case. For this reason, the program is open to any child, of any age.
The Nebraska Freemasons is sponsored by the State Troopers Association of Nebraska, the Nebraska Sheriffs Association, the Nebraska Dental Association, the Nebraska Dental Hygienists Association and the Nebraska Dental Assistants Association.