Texas public schools are sending students home with DNA kits meant to help identify them in an emergency—a move parents say is a horrifying reminder of inaction on gun violence in the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Parents aren't required to use the DNA and fingerprint kits distributed to students in kindergarten through seventh grade, but the schools are required to offer them under a 2021 law. It mandates that the Texas Education Agency "provide identification kits to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools for distribution to the parent or legal custodian of certain students" to "help locate and return a missing or trafficked child," per NBC News.
Those who do use the kits will keep a set of their child's fingerprints and DNA to be turned over to law enforcement only if needed. "My hope is that these kits provide peace of mind to parents," state Sen. Donna Campbell, who wrote the bill, tells KHOU. But parents say the kits are chilling, particularly coming five months after the massacre in Uvalde, where parents were asked to give DNA samples to identify their mutilated dead children. They are an "incredibly triggering, in-your-face reminder that our kids are at risk of being obliterated by automatic weapons to the point they won't be recognizable" and suggest elected officials have "decided our kids aren't worth restricting guns," parent Emily Westbrooks tells NBC.
Brett Cross, whose 10-year-old son Uziyah Garcia died in the Uvalde shooting, had a similar reaction. "Yeah! Awesome! Let's identify kids after they've been murdered instead of fixing issues that could ultimately prevent them from being murdered," he tweeted. One parent of a 2-year-old told the Houston Chronicle that "it sounds like a good idea" as the kits will only be accessible by parents and police, though "it's sad that you would even have to think about doing that." According to Gizmodo, the new law states a child's fingerprints cannot be "used as evidence in any criminal proceeding in which the child is a defendant." However, there is no such statement on the child's DNA sample. (Read more Texas stories.)