Texas schools are distributing DNA kits to help parents identify their kids bodies in emergencies

Coming just months after the Uvalde school shooting, the move has sparked backlash from some gun control advocates

A memorial honoring the nineteen students and two teachers who were killed stands outside of Robb Elementary School on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Uvalde, TX.

Texas public schools are distributing DNA and fingerprint identification kits to parents in case they need to provide their child’s DNA to law enforcement if they go missing — or in case of other emergencies.

But as school districts begin distributing the kits this fall, for many it’s a stark reminder of one of the main safety concerns facing schools: mass shootings. The distribution comes less than six months after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde — the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

As family members waited to find out the fate of their children in the May massacre, some were asked to provide DNA samples to help identify the dead.

The kits, which retail for about $10 each, are being provided to Texas families for free. It was created in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the information collected is to be kept at home by the parent or guardian in case it is ever needed, according to the National Child ID Program website.

The state Legislature passed a law in the spring of 2021 requiring the Texas Education Agency to give inkless in-home fingerprint and DNA identification cards to each public school system in Texas.

Though the legislation didn’t specifically cite school shootings when establishing the free “child identification program,” some lawmakers said the move came in response to the 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 dead.

Dallas ISD said this week it began distributingthe 92,400 inkless fingerprint child identification kits provided by the TEA to families with students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Participation is voluntary, the district said.

The move has sparked backlash from some parents, teachers and advocates of gun control, with critics immediately criticizing Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republican leaders after The Houston Chronicle first reported the kits had begun being distributed this week.

Many would prefer officials focus on tighter gun safety laws, background checks and better security at schools.

“Texas Gov Greg Abbott is choosing to send DNA kits to schools that parents can use to identify their children’s bodies AFTER they’ve been murdered rather than pass gun safety laws to proactively protect their lives,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, tweeted.

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