5 Reasons Child IDs are a Good Idea

Parents should keep a copy of their child's ID card with them at all times.

Local law enforcement agencies along with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommend that all kids have and carry identification cards. Many child ID cards look similar to a driver's license -- this is not a microchip, monitoring system or other sort of tracking device -- with a current, full-face photo and important personal information including at least the child's full legal name, address, birth date, height and gender. Should your child have one? We have five good reasons why your child -- and parents, guardians and caregivers -- should carry it with them at all times. And don't forget to make an update with current information every year!


5. Abduction: Immediate and Up-to-date Identification

Child safety experts will tell you, when a child goes missing what happens during the first hour (or less) is the most important and can make or break finding that child. According to the Department of Justice, approximately 797,500 kids are reported missing each year -- that's 2,185 kids on average every day. No parents want to imagine that child abduction could happen to their family, but if it were to happen, would you be prepared?

It's estimated that 34 percent of American parents wouldn't be able to accurately describe their child to law enforcement, including details of exact height and weight as well as their child's eye color. Child ID cards answer these basic questions. In addition to having your child carry his or her own ID card, each parent, guardian and caretaker should also keep a copy to give to law enforcement in the event the unthinkable happens.


4. Lost in a Crowd

Local law enforcement agencies along with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommend that all kids have and carry identification cards.

No matter how vigilant a parent or caregiver may be, large crowds such as those at a sporting event, local park or even in the familiar local mall can be difficult to manage with kids in tow. Kids can panic if they lose sight of a parent -- and vice versa -- so it's important to have a family plan in case you are separated, and ID cards can play a big role in that plan. The ID card your child carries can provide the critical information needed for a store clerk or mall security guard to reunite him or her with you, and the copy carried by a parent or caregiver can provide information to security or other law enforcement when a child gets absorbed into a crowd.



3. Traveling Minors

According to the U.S. Travel Association, about 30 percent of leisure travelers are families traveling with children (or grandchildren), and they go on an average of 4.5 trips per year. The total number of children who travel solo, however, isn't readily tracked but some airlines give estimates. For example, an estimated 200,000 unaccompanied minors -- kids without their parents or guardians -- fly with American Airlines every year.

These kids are usually between the ages of five and 14 (although this varies). Unaccompanied minors may or may not be required to show photo identification, and even if it's not a requirement (some airlines require ID, some don't), it's a good idea to send kids traveling with IDs that include emergency contact information.


2. Medical Emergencies

Child ID cards are particularly helpful during medical emergencies.

Not all cards are created equal. In addition to basic identifying personal information such as name, address, height, weight, eye and hair color, some child ID services also offer fingerprints, tooth prints, DNA swabbing, organ donor information and medical information. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injuries -- burns, drowning, falls, poisoning, car or bike-related injuries and suffocation -- were the leading cause of death in children (infants to 19-year-olds) between 2000 and 2006. An ID card can be a lifesaver in an emergency by providing important medical information, including allergies and other medical concerns, emergency contacts and even a medical release signature to first responders, law enforcement or others in the event of an injury or accident.


1. Communication

Some children benefit from ID cards as a form of communication, specifically kids with disabilities that make it difficult for them to communicate. Let's use autism as an example, as it touches the lives of many American families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that autism spectrum disorders occur in one out of every 110 births, and according to an estimate by the Autism Society, autism diagnoses are growing at a 10 to 17 percent rate every year.

Some children on the spectrum do not speak, while others may use alternative methods of communication such as pictures or sign language. Some may have language abilities but find themselves unable to interact with strangers. For these children, an ID card can be used as a way to share important information beyond basic identification (name, address, height, weight), including information about their disability, how to communicate with them, and any critical sensory or behavioral information.


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