Should DNA fingerprinting on newborn children be the law of the land?
This is the question for debate that many people are asking in light of the recent news story on Carlina White, 23, who was abducted from Harlem Hospital back in 1987 when she was just 19 days old. White was raised in Connecticut under the name Nejdra Nance, but she said she had long suspected that her kidnapper was not actually her mother.
Because of her suspicions, White set out to find her true identity and seek out her real birth parents, and finally, she was reunited with her mother Joy White this past week. DNA tests helped confirm her identity.
I know that as a parent myself, one of the biggest fears for anyone with children is a situation like the White family found themselves in years ago, where a child is kidnapped.
Clearly, keeping our children safe is becoming a much more difficult task than ever before. Between technology like cell phones and computers, and both parents needing to work because of the terrible economic downturn, the safety of our children is more compromised than ever.
Here’s the reality: Every 40 seconds, a child in the United States goes missing or is abducted. This, in my opinion, is one of the low points in our society. The sad thing is that most abductions are done by a family member. So what are we supposed to do?
When police departments are investigating these crimes, they rely significantly not only on surveillance data, but also on DNA testing.
A few years ago, Fox News did a story, which gave parents tips on how to keep their children safe. These tips included parents familiarizing themselves with their children’s friends, knowing their daily routine, and getting involved with their school and extracurricular activities. Also, parents were encouraged to minimize the risk of their kids being identified by their own names, which can happen when the child’s name is written on school bags or clothing.
Another topic that we talked about was fingerprinting. This is something that I strongly believe in since I have a child with autism. In fact, one of the things that I did early in the game was to have my autistic son fingerprinted by my local police department. The rationale behind it was that if my child wandered off, they would have a record for him, and they would be able to identify him more easily.
I think, nowadays, we have to go deeper. There are many available customized kits for identification that parents should consider, including fingerprints, photographs, medical and dental records-- but the most important of all may be DNA.
DNA fingerprinting is the most accurate way to identify one human from another because it is very unlikely that any two people would have exact same DNA information.
There are many ways to fingerprint DNA – hair, saliva, skin or blood – and in case of an unimaginably terrible moment, this DNA might be able to help identify a child.
So here’s my question to you: Do you think that DNA fingerprinting children would protect them, or do you think it would be an intrusion, which would add little to the abduction epidemic that we have in this country? I’ll vote first. I say it can only protect. Your turn.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny's work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit AskDrManny.com for more.