Texas school boards distributing DNA kits to students' families
"Parents need to be also understanding that this kit can be valuable for them beyond what they think of at this time as far as school safety."
Texas school districts have begun distributing DNA kits to the families of public school children as part of a program to help authorities identify students in the event of an emergency.
The Child Identification Program, which Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed in 2021, directs the Texas Education Agency to provide students' families with the kits, according to KWTX. Use of the kits is voluntary. Parents, should they opt to do so, may submit the DNA tests to law enforcement to help them locate a missing child. Authorities, however, have asserted that the kits could aid in a myriad of situations, such as recovering children from trafficking rings.
"Parents need to be also understanding that this kit can be valuable for them beyond what they think of at this time as far as school safety," Chief Communications Officer of Killeen ISD Taina Maya told the outlet. "This is something where... human trafficking, these are dating violence, these are potentially fingerprints and pictures of your students in a safeguarded place. It could be something that might help them further down the road."
Texas is still wrestling with the fallout from a deadly school shooting in Uvalde, which saw an armed individual enter an elementary school and kill 19 students and two staff members. The school district has since suspended its entire police force amid criticism of their response.
On the border, meanwhile, the chaotic situation and unprecedented migrant encounters have created an environment rife with human trafficking operations that present another potential need for the kits, should local children become entangled in them.