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The importance of your child’s photo

It’s probably a parent’s worst nightmare – their child goes missing.  Even when I can’t find Mary for a second because she ran around the corner to hide my heart skips a beat.

While it’s something difficult to think about, it’s important to be prepared in case your child was to go missing. We hear a lot about having a sample of DNA or your child’s fingerprints.  While these are good to have and helpful in identifying a child, you really want to aid law enforcement in finding your child safe and sound.

One of the most important tools for law enforcement to use in the case of a missing child is an up-to-date, good-quality photograph. Smartphones with built-in cameras have made this extremely easy but it’s important to make sure your photos are the most helpful that they can be.

Use the following tips when taking an up-to-date photo:

  • The photograph should be a recent, head-and-shoulders color photograph of the child in which the face is clearly seen. It should be good quality and the background should be plain or solid.
  • When possible the photograph should be in a digital form and available on a compact disk (CD) or able to be easily e-mailed.
  • The photograph should be a truthful representation of the child. Other people, animals, or objects should not be in the photograph. The photograph should not be taken outside, out of focus, torn, damaged, or very small.
  • The photograph should have space to identify the child such as name, nickname, height, weight, sex, age, eye color, identifying marks, glasses, and braces.
  • The photograph should be updated at least every six months for children 6 years of age or younger and then once a year, or when a child’s appearance changes.
  • All copies of child’s photograph and information should be maintained in a handy, secure space by the parents or guardian. The photograph and data should not be stored in a public database.

Recently, Western & Southern Life Insurance Company was taking photos at a public event. Later they came to our house to get Mary’s fingerprints so I have everything on file and in one place. Take advantage of these opportunities offered in the community by many different organizations.  It’s a great peace of mind and while it’s scary to think about, you never can be too prepared!

For additional information visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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