It’s a subject that may make some parents uncomfortable to imagine. But what would you do if one day you discovered that somewhere in Wilmington, your child was missing?
For those who attend a Saturday event, the answer is simple. They’d grab a single packet of information, and put it into the hands of the Wilmington Police Department.
The local Friendship Lodge is sponsoring the Masonic Youth Child Identification Program (MYCHIP), which allows parents to prepare for the worst case scenario.
“There’s a very difficult realization for parents that bad things can happen,” said Wilmington Police Lt. Joe Desmond. “Anything you can do now to prevent those things from happening in the future is worth doing.”
The MYCHIP program allows parents to bring their children, 18 years old and younger, to Wilmington Police Department on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. While there, several stations will be set up and children will be photographed, take part in a short video interview, be fingerprinted, and offer a DNA cheek swab.
All of the items collected will be given to the child’s family in a packet so that if the child is ever missing, the parents can provide the information to police to help facilitate a successful search.
None of the information will be kept by the freemasons, and there is no charge for the service.
Desmond said there have been no cases of missing children in the community during recent memory, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“We haven’t benefited from this program yet. But that is not a disappointment,” said Desmond. “We certainly have been blessed and have not had any issues where a child was missing and we needed information like this. But we certainly encourage parents to have something like this on hand in case of the worst case scenario.”
According to a press release by the Freemasons, more than one million children are reported missing every year, and a child is reported missing every 43 seconds in the United States.
Desmond said the MYCHIP program ran in the past with good turnout numbers, and he expects more of the same on Saturday.
“It’s one of those things where the community is actually coming forward and helping us do our job,” said Desmond. “There’s an uncomfortable aspect for parents to imagine what they would do if their child was missing. But hopefully we get a good turnout because in that time of need or crisis, this information could be very helpful.”