Friday, September 28, 2001
Hayden The Hayden School District wants to take a hands-on approach to protecting its students.
A program called "Fingerprint America" is coming to its elementary, middle and high schools in late October.
Local police officers will be available during Red Ribbon week, which runs from Oct. 22 to Oct. 26, to fingerprint students at Hayden Elementary School.
Middle and high school students can get their fingerprints as well, but a time has not yet been set.
Kathy Hockett, a candidate for the Hayden School Board, said she was interested in bringing the program to Hayden because she, like many other parents, wanted to do something more to protect students in the district.
"We tend to think that just because we're a small community, our children are safe," Hockett said. "But you can never be too careful, not with our kids."
Hockett credits district health educator director Mari Mahanna and school resource officer Gordon Bocco for help in bringing fingerprinting to the district.
This particular opportunity for children to get their fingerprints is somewhat unusual in that older children can also have their fingerprints taken, Hockett said.
"When we only focus at the elementary level, we forget that older students are just as at risk to kidnapping or other dangerous situations," she said.
Mahanna agreed that the district could not overlook students in the middle and high schools.
Older children are more likely to run away from home, and the information that stems from available fingerprints could ensure a quicker and safer return of children, Mahanna said.
Parents can be certain that the fingerprinting available at Hayden schools will be professionally taken and advantageous to have, she said.
Prints taken at home are usually not as reliable as those taken by police officers that are trained to do so, she added.
"It's so important that parents have identifying characteristics about their children on hand," Mahanna said. "It makes it so much easier for the officers who must investigate a missing child."
Fingerprints will be recorded in the fingerprint portion of each child's identification kit, and the kits will then be sent home with children so parents can keep them in a safe place. The kits allow parents to store other important information collectively, Hockett said.
Physical attributes, including DNA samples, recent photographs, medical history and dental records may be placed in the kit.
Safe and Drug Free School programs provide funding for "Fingerprint America."