Child ID system makes its mark
In addition to being fingerprinted, the children were videotaped answering questions about their family, favorite hiding spots, and places they like to go after school...
14,000 prints taken in Milton
By Peter Demarco, Globe Correspondent, 5/23/2004
MILTON -- Adventure is Tom Bruynell's middle name. Ever since the 4-year-old could walk, he has wandered off at shopping malls, the San Diego Zoo, and his big sister's school band recital. He once went missing for 45 minutes before police tracked him down in the back room of a store playing on a computer.
And so, when his mother, Karen, heard that a free child identification program was being offered in her hometown of Milton yesterday, she grabbed Tom and her other two children and made a beeline to the event.
"These two stick to me like glue," she said, hugging her other children, Jonathan and Hilary . "Tom is the one that's very curious and adventurous and not afraid. And that makes me afraid."
Bruynell's were among the estimated 14,000 children who participated yesterday in a massive, seven-state identification drive organized by the Masonic Child Identification Program, or CHIP.
With 67 participating communities, including several in and around the Boston area, the effort was touted as the largest single-day "comprehensive" child identification drive ever held in the United States.
In addition to being fingerprinted, the children were videotaped answering questions about their family, favorite hiding spots, and places they like to go after school. Dentists and dental hygenists volunteered their time, taking teeth impressions and saliva samples for DNA analysis from each child.
All of the identification materials are kept by the parents to ensure privacy, said Dr. David Harte, a Milton Mason who founded the program in 1998.
"We've done almost 190,000 Massachusetts kids. We should pass that number today," he said of the CHIP program, sponsored by the Grand Lodge of Masons.
In addition to the sign-up drives, 43 public school systems have registered students through the program, Harte said.
He said the most recent system is Quincy. "We have 16 schools there finishing up on June 2. That will make them the largest K-12 school system in the nation" to register all their students, he said.
At Cunningham Hall in Milton yesterday, clowns raced around on roller skates as children -- some bashful, some bubbly -- were videotaped in front of posters indicating their height. Deirdre and Brad Sassaman of Franklin, stood in line to have a mouth swab taken of their 17-month-old, Mae.
"Our daughter is adopted. Her DNA is different," Deirdre Sassaman said. "We wouldn't have a sample without this program."
John and Magdalen Bish, who are testifying this week before a Worcester grand jury investigating their daughter Molly's disappearance and death, were expected to attend yesterday's event in Milton but canceled because of time constraints.
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