Room 4 was filled with parents and kids, as well as a team of volunteers from several concerned organizations. This was an opportunity to have your child identified by means of fingerprint or footprint, depending on their age. This seminar was put on by C.O.P.S and Lion?s Club as well as endorsed by the RCMP. The materials for the event were provided for by ChildFind in Victoria, BC as well as fingerprint strips provided by the Tumbler Ridge RCMP.
Each participating child was to have its parent or guardian?s permission to have the identifying process done. They were then fingerprinted, if between the ages of 5 and 12. Footprints were taken from children aged 0-5 simply as matter of ease, as that age group is more difficult to keep still for the fingerprinting process. Some kids wanted to do all of it, as one little guy attempted to pull off his sock and was told, to his disappointment, that he would be doing the fingerprinting instead. It is recommended for the younger age group that they have this process repeated, sometimes as often as every six months, due to possible changes.
The children are also given a passport or booklet called an ?All About Me ID? which shows current information such as distinguishing marks, habits, mannerisms, phobias, etc. Other more obvious information regarding appearance is covered with having a photograph of the child attached to the booklet. The former information is filled out in pencil, so that certain details can be changed as the child changes. The parent or guardian keeps the information in his or her own own home, along with a copy of the fingerprints or footprint. This can be turned over to the police in the case of the child becoming lost or abducted.
Children today have grown up with the potential tragedy of this as reality. When asked if she had told each of her children the purpose for the fingerprinting process, especially in reference to her three-year-old son, Margaret Mercredi didn?t bat an eye. ?Oh yes. They all know. I told them that sometimes strangers take kids or they wander off and get lost. They know what it is for.?
C.O.P.S. volunteer Jules Jewra feels this is preventative and has become a necessity in Tumbler Ridge. ?This town is growing so much and we?re going to have some transients coming through. One child lost is one too many.? The groups hope to hold future seminars to carry on with this program. The turnout was steady but not everyone has yet heard of it. Through communication with the elementary school and newspaper, the seminars will be continued, as the need merits. There had been a previous run of a ChildFind program in Tumbler Ridge some fifteen plus years ago. The toll-free ChildFind number is 1-800-387-7962.