DNA identification kits will be sent home with Texas school kids. There were assumptions that the kits were to identify kids after mass shootings — which was widely reported in local and national media. However, those assumptions are largely wrong. 

The kits, which are part of a bill passed in 2021, are actually to help locate missing or trafficked children. WFAA reports that parents will soon receive in-home child identification kits for kindergarten through 8th-grade students. The kits will be used to collect the child’s DNA and fingerprints in case of an emergency.

Many assumed the kits would be used to identify remains in case of a school shooting after DNA was used to identify students killed in the Uvalde massacre. But their use goes beyond identifying remains. Dr. Bob Sanborn, President and CEO of Children at Risk, told WFAA the original intent for the kits is to assist in locating and returning a missing or trafficked child. 

“If you’re searching for your child, if you believe your child is trafficked, and many times you don’t see these kids for a couple of years. I think the idea of being able to identify them quickly through DNA is sound,” Dr. Sanborn told WFAA. 

Supplying the kits was part of Senate Bill (SB) 2158 (87R) which was passed in 2021. The Texas Education Agency told WFAA the bill provided for the distribution of child I.D and DNA kits in Fall 2021. The kits are part of a statewide program that assists families in locating their children if a situation arises. 

“The kits are designed to assist law enforcement in locating and returning a missing or trafficked child and are not distributed as a means of victim identification following a mass casualty incident,” the Texas Education Agency explained. “While this is the first time school systems are involved in the distribution of kits, Texas has facilitated a statewide child ID program since 2006 through direct distribution to parents.”

The use of the kits is not mandatory and parents are not obligated to use them. However, it is recommended that they are completed in case of child trafficking or other issues. 

“It has come to my attention that there is some confusion regarding the intent of the Child I.D. Kits currently being disseminated at schools,” Texas Senator Campbell said. “The Child I.D. Kits for Safe Recovery Act was passed back in 2021 to provide aid in the reunification of missing and trafficked children. My hope is that these kits provide peace of mind to parents.”

Local Profile has reached out to the Texas Education Agency and this story will be updated pending a response.