By: April Carson
Texas public school students are being sent home with DNA kits in order to help their parents identify them “in case of an emergency.”
Senate Bill No. 2158, passed in 2021 by the Texas state legislature, requires the Texas Education Agency to distribute identification kits to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools for use by the parents or legal custodians of certain students.
The law was passed barely a year before 19 fourth-graders and two teachers were gunned down inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas-- after eight students and two teachers had already been shot and killed inside Santa Fe High School.
Parents in Texas can now choose to have their children's fingerprints and DNA identification cards be created by the state public school system. The cards are the size of a credit card and contain information including the child's full name, date of birth, gender, height, weight, eye color, hair color and DNA sample.
The card also has a space for the parent or guardian to list emergency contact information.
According to the emergency legislation passed in Texas, these three-fold pamphlets with children's DNA and fingerprints are given to qualifying families so that law enforcement agencies could have access to this information in the event of an abduction or trafficking occurrence.
After the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history and the ensuing police response that left 19 students and two teachers dead, Texas parents have voiced their concerns about the kits and what message they believe it sends to families in Texas.
Since many of the children killed inside Robb Elementary were not easily identifiable due to their catastrophic injuries, some close family members provided DNA swabs for positive identification of the remains. In the wake of this tragedy, some parents have found comfort in the fact that their child's DNA would be on file and easily accessible by law enforcement in the event that their child went missing.
Other parents have raised concerns about the potential for law enforcement to abuse this information and have refused to provide DNA samples for their children. They worry that their children's DNA could be used to incriminate them in a crime, or that the information could be released to the public without their consent.
On social media, Brett Cross expressed his frustration over the kits. Uziyah Garcia, Cross's 10-year-old son, was killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting.
"Let's wait until children have already been murdered instead of working to prevent their murders in the first place," Cross said on Twitter. Texas State Sen. Donna Campbell, who sponsored SB-2158, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott did not respond when asked for comment.
The Texas Education Agency announced that parents can request Child Identification Program kits, which include DNA and fingerprint identification, for their children. The spokesperson stated that the program was established by Senate Bill 2158 to supply schools with these kits in order to help families feel more secure.
In order to comply with this law, TEA is working with the Safety Blitz Foundation, National Child Identification (I.D.) Program, Education Service Centers, and school systems to provide families who had children in kindergarten through sixth grade during the 2021-2022 school year and kindergarten during the 2022-2023 school year with child I.D. fingerprint kits," the statement continued.
For privacy reasons, some parents are reticent about sending their children's DNA to anyone. Furthermore, the kits are making many mothers and fathers anxious about sending their offspring to school after the Uvalde tragedy.
“As a parent, this sickens me,”mom of two Wendi Aarons said to TODAY Parents. She's been living in Texas since 1999. “It’s hard for me to comprehend that this is something happening in reality. Parents with school-aged children should only have to worry about PTO sign-ups and grades—not if their child will be shot and killed or how many times so their body becomes unidentifiable."
Aarons has two children who attended Texas public schools from kindergarten to their high school graduation. She said she’s grateful her children won’t be sent home with DNA and fingerprint kits, and can’t imagine the panic parents face every day not knowing if their kids will return safely.
Aarons said, "It's appalling that the state of Texas has done nothing to protect our children and teachers. They've actually taken the callous measure of sending DNA test kits so we can identify their bodies if or when they're victims of a massacre. This sends the message that guns are more important than human lives."
"There are all sorts of reasons why this is a terrible idea," said civil liberties attorney Scott Michelman. "It's an invasion of privacy. It's stigmatizing. It could lead to kids being labeled as potential criminals."
What do you think? Should parents provide DNA samples for their children to be kept on file by schools? Would you feel comfortable with your child's DNA being stored in a database? Let us know in the comments!
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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