Texas’ Dystopian Child Identification Kits Are Just Scaring People
How does Texas always manage to make things worse?
Trigger warning for discussion of school shootings and all the trauma surrounding them.
Texas is still dealing with the horrific fallout from the Uvalde school shooting. But Texas is arguably re-traumatizing students and parents with their attempts to prepare for future emergencies. Many parents have voiced the terror and disgust they’ve felt upon receiving DNA kits to help identify their children in the event of an emergency. This comes months after Texas Rangers reportedly had to use DNA identification to confirm some of the Uvalde victims’ bodies.
What’s even worse is that the law authorizing these kits is pre-Uvalde: In 2021, Texas codified Senate Bill No. 2158, requiring the Texas Education Agency to provide parents and guardians with ink-free fingerprint and DNA identification cards to eligible K-6 students. It’s supposedly meant to help “locate and return a missing or trafficked child.” However, the bill itself seems to have only been considered in the wake of the Santa Fe shooting in 2021.
“Now we’re giving parents DNA kits so that when their child is killed with the same weapon of war I had when I was in Afghanistan, parents can use them to identify them?” said Tracy Walder, a former law enforcement officer and Texas mom. “This sends two messages: The first is that the government is not going to do anything to solve the problem. This is their way of telling us that. The second is that us parents are now forced to have conversations with our kids that they may not be emotionally ready for. My daughter is 7. What do I tell her?”
Parents reached out to the sponsor of the bill, Texas State Sen. Donna Campbell, and to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, but have not heard back from them. A spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency clarified that “parents can voluntarily request these kits” and parents are not mandated to use them. Still, parents aren’t buying the government’s reasoning behind the kits, worse than a band-aid over a bullet wound.
“It infuriates me that these kits are being sent to families in lieu of any concrete action to prevent such terrorizing tragedies from occurring… I think the only way you can reasonably send your children to school is simply to tell yourself this won’t happen to your kids, which is of course just lying to yourself… Elected officials, both national and Texan, have given up. They’ve decided our kids aren’t worth restricting guns, but they’re offering us this as some kind of consolation. It’s disgusting that they can’t do any better than to admit that they won’t protect our children.”Emily Westbrooks, who moved from Ireland (“where gun violence is negligible”) to Texas, gave this statement to Today.com
And she’s right.
It will have been one decade since the Sandy Hook school shooting this December, and the unfortunate fact is that we are no closer to national gun control or regulation than we were then. Those children would have been high schoolers, likely graduating in the next year or two. And their lives were stolen not just by the gunman but by every cowardly politician who refuses to stand up to the NRA. If you feel the drive to take action, here’s a link to contact your senators/representatives: https://www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member
(featured image: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
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