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VERIFY: School DNA kits for Texas students are not in response to Uvalde shooting

Supplying the kits to parents is part of a law passed in 2021, nearly a year before Uvalde.

TEXAS, USA — Parents across Texas have been getting letters this week telling them they’ll soon receive in-home child identification kits for children in grades kindergarten through 8th. 

The kits are used to collect the child’s DNA and fingerprints in case of an emergency.

But on the heels of the Robb Elementary School shooting, where DNA had to be used to identify students who were killed, many parents are outraged.

In response to this, Anthony asked us to verify:

“Is it true the state of Texas is issuing free DNA kits to K-8 students to aid in the ID process after a mass shooting?”

Our source for this is Dr. Bob Sanborn, President and CEO of Children at Risk, an advocacy nonprofit dedicated to addressing the root causes of poor public policies affecting children.

He can verify that this is not true. 

He said supplying the kits to parents is part of a law passed in 2021, nearly a year before Uvalde.

“The law was clear though, it’s because of trafficking. We had no mass shootings where we needed identification when this law was passed," Dr. Sanborn said. 

He said the original intent was not for mass shootings, but 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 said. 

He did say the kits could be used in mass shootings, like the one at Robb Elementary, but said the timing on the release of these kits, less than five months after Uvalde, was poor. 

“For this to be launched in light of Uvalde, it’s sort of macabre," Dr. Sanborn said. “I think what maybe started as a good idea a few legislative sessions ago, has turned into a very bad idea.”

So we can verify this is false. The DNA kits are not being sent out because of school shootings, but it doesn’t mean they couldn’t be used to ID victims.

The Texas Education Agency has also responded, saying:

"Senate Bill (SB) 2158 (87R) provided for the distribution of child I.D. fingerprint and DNA identification kits to school systems to give to families in their respective school communities, beginning in Fall 2021. 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. 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.

As outlined in Texas Education Code (TEC) 33.0531, use of these kits is completely voluntary and requires parental consent. TEA is collaborating with the Safety Blitz Foundation, National Child Identification (I.D.) Program, Education Service Centers, and school systems to distribute these kits to families with children in kindergarten, elementary and/or middle school during the 2021-22 school year and kindergarten during the 2022-23 school year."

Author of the original bill, Senator Donna Campbell, M.D. also says the kits are not in response to Uvalde. 

"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," said Senator Campbell. "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."

Janelle Bludau on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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