Try as we might, it’s impossible to protect our children from every danger in the world. Although we wish for full-body bubble wrap, implanted GPS, and a spectrum of safety gadgets for our toddlers, youngsters and teenagers, we eventually realize that with each passing year, they become more independent. So, we teach them “rules” to keep them safer—don’t talk to strangers, tell a parent if someone touches you inappropriately, and be careful who you interact with online.
Statistics show good reasons to be cautious. More than 2,000 children are reported missing each day in the US. The risks multiply with age and exposure to the Internet. It is reported 1 in 25 children between the ages of 10 and 17 receive sexual solicitations online, where a solicitor attempts to make offline contact with the child. That’s why as parents, it is important to have resources and tools to help keep kids safe.
For more than 10 years, Lifetouch, the leading provider of school and family photography, has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to help provide law enforcement with the most valuable tool when a child goes missing—a current photograph. Each year, Lifetouch distributes SmileSafe® photo ID cards, free of charge, to families where Lifetouch provides school photography. Since the inception of the SmileSafe program, more than 300 million cards have been distributed.
If a child is missing, parents can share the SmileSafe card with law enforcement. Each card lists the phone number for the National Center and unique access codes for retrieval of photography. When the National Center receives a call, it contacts the Lifetouch Rapid Response team to forward a current photograph to law enforcement, 24/7.
This fall marks the launch of SmileSafe—a national safety program, which will make electronic and paper ID cards and resources for online safety readily available in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. Lifetouch is proud to have expanded this program, providing parents with valuable tools to help keep their children safe or help to bring them home if they go missing.
Watch for more information about SmileSafe—a national safety program at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. Additional safety tips and resources from the National Center for Missing and Exploited children are available at missingkids.com.