- TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is
trying to provide parents with a way to prove their children's identity
for a lifetime.
- But many parents want nothing to do with
the program to use blood samples to identify their children's DNA. And
no state has adopted the program, although the cost is less than $1.50
- The Florida department offered the program
to three school districts -- parents would get a free ID kit with their
children's DNA -- but only one district agreed. And that district, Leon
County schools, used only 300 of the 500 donated kits.
- "It's the whole privacy issue,"
said John Rabun, vice president of the National Center for Missing and
Exploited Children. "Parents are saying, "I don't want outsiders
deciding what to do with that."'
- Children gave blood at three Leon County
elementary schools in February, with their parents present. A drop of blood
was sealed on a special chemical paper, then sent home with the parents.
- No blood was kept by the government.
- Fear of 'Big Brother'
- Some school districts are reluctant to
use the program because of concern over privacy issues.
- "It's the 'Big Brother is watching'
syndrome," said Bill Johnson, spokesman for the Brevard County School
District, which turned down the program. "Everybody's concerned that
we are tracking people and that kind of thing. The concerns are unjustified
in my view. I think we need to do everything and anything we can to protect
- Bill Hagmaier, chief of the FBI's violent
crime analysis lab in Quantico, Virginia, said fingerprinting also once
concerned the public, and that people will learn to like the DNA program
when they better understand it.
- DNA samples can help law enforcement
identify a decomposed or dismembered body, or identify infants switched
at birth. It can also be used to prove guilt or innocence.
- Although tragedy, such as murder, is
unimaginable, especially for a parent, Hagmaier said it happens more often
than people think.
- "There's not a week that goes by
where there aren't remains found somewhere of some human being," Hagmaier
said. "The key is the investigator finding some way to identify the
- When 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce was abducted
in Miami in September 1995, raped and dismembered, authorities used DNA
from the boy's parents to identify the remains.
- Miami schools cite liability
- Miami-Dade County schools also rejected
the DNA program.
- "It was the testing of students,"
Deputy Superintendent Henry Fraind said. "We just don't get involved
if we don't have to. We get offered so many different things with various
ID cards or blood tests. For us, everything seems to be a liability issue."
- The DNA kits were offered by Life Technologies
of Rockville, Maryland.
- All members of the military must now
give a DNA sample, which means there is virtually no chance that the United
States will ever bury another unknown soldier.
- A success in Leon County
- Despite the general wariness, Leon County
Superintendent Bill Montford called the pilot program a success. Other
schools have called wanting to sample their children, he said.
- The reaction was also positive from parents
who took their children to Pineview Elementary one evening for the samples,
although children had mixed feelings.
- "What's that? She's gonna stick
me," 6-year-old Carl Bryan protested when a nurse assistant brought
out a needle.
- He cried, kicked and screamed until his
mother agreed to do without the sample.
- Carl couldn't be persuaded by an offer
of pizza, a $1 bribe or even the proud announcement by 8-year-old Eboni
Major that "It didn't hurt. I wasn't scared."
- Parents, on the other hand, were grateful.
- "I'm keeping this in the envelope
with the birth certificates," Sharon Conyers said of the DNA sample
from her 12-year-old son, Cedrick. "It'll be one of my most important