Apparently, scary news reports of missing children and other factors in our culture of fear have spurred an entire industry of identification for youngsters, described in a story in today's edition of The Dispatch.

The story notes that the ID industry includes child identification cards and kits, some with bite impressions, fingerprints and DNA samples. Several local school districts were offered a child identification card through Ident-A-Kid Services of America, based in Florida.

[Full story]

I find this quite weird (and my parents were pretty protective). Will a lecture about candy and strangers no longer prepare kids to enter a world many parents fear is crawling with perverts, abducters and other creepy folks waiting to lure Lil' Suzie into the back of a conversion van with a Twix bar?

Or maybe today's parents are worried that kids are more likely just to wander off?

Beside the depressing post-mortem implications of the kits, what exactly would they really do?

Debra Gray Boyd, who sells cards for Ident-A-Kid in Franklin County, told The Dispatch that when a child is lost, a parent may become flustered and unable to remember or communicate details. That's when the card helps.

"Otherwise you wind up with a parent saying, 'I'm looking for a little girl who's about 3 feet tall and has brown hair -- which explains practically every kid on the school ground," she said.

Weird. Some don't agree that such devices are at all useful.

"A child identification card will not keep your child safer," said Nancy McBride, national safety director for the missing children center, in the report.

She said parents should keep a portrait-style photo of their child along with information such as height, weight and other identifying details in a safe place.

Note: This situation makes me think of South Park's episode 611, "Child Abduction Is Not Funny." In it, parents get so afraid of child abduction that they eventually have to move away because a news report says that a parent is most often responsible for taking a missing child. The boys are left alone to their own desires.

Is this a good thing - that sensationalist news reports keep reminding me of South Park episodes? Either Matt Stone and Trey Parker are geniuses...or American society is really messed up.