In 2013, over 20,000 children went missing. 8,000 of those kids are from New York City. With statistics like that, it’s hard to fault parents for wanting to be as informed about their child’s location as possible. What parent wouldn’t want to guarantee their child’s safety? But are surgically implanted tracking devices the answer?
The good news is that kids are safe, for the moment, from any surgery that involves a chip being placed under their skin. The Observer spoke to Todd Morris, president of Brickhouse Security, a Manhattan company that specializes in personal and home safety, who told them that it’s currently impossible to place anything under a child’s skin to track their movements. Not only would they need the chip under their ear, but the child would also need a cellular receiver and battery placed below the skin as well. Morris says that he doesn’t think parents would go for such a thing, but as Brickhouse currently gets several calls a day from parents wanting to microchip their offspring, I’m willing to bet that there are some people out there who would absolutely see a little pain and unsightly battery lines under the epidermis as a fair price to pay for peace of mind.
Luckily for parents, Brickhouse does provide other methods of monitoring children, like GPS trackers that attach to belts and tags that send parents notifications if a child has wandered away. For parents of special-needs children, these tools can be a lifesaver—and while we’re probably a few years from seeing enhanced by surgery, more and more companies are providing parents with the ability to keep tabs on their kids in less intrusive ways in order to keep kids safe and comfortable. Former news anchor Lauren Thierry’s clothing company, Independence Day Clothing, takes into account how some children living with autism may have sensory triggers that prevent them from wearing anything with too many tags or buttons and hides their monitoring systems in specially designed compartments meant to prevent distress. “
I’ve seen a girl chew through a Hello Kitty watch in 15 minutes to get it off—my heart went out to her,” Ms. Thierry told the Observer. “And you want her to wear an ankle bracelet?”
Some experts are skeptical of this new trend in wearable tech. While it can help kids who are lost or have wandered away, The Observer notes that it may not be as helpful when a child has been abducted by a parent and not a stranger, as a parent would have intimate knowledge of how to remove or disable any device. Still, there have been abductions (by strangers) that have been foiled with the use of apps that track location. But of course, as kids grow older they’ll be less pleased by clothing with built-in GPS. And unlike a microchip, no matter how ugly and bulky it might be, the clothing can (and likely will) be removed.
The good news is that unless a child has a high risk of being abducted or going missing, there’s probably no need to install any sort of tracking devices on them, according to Brickhouse’s CEO, Todd Morris. He told The Observer that too much tracking can lead to “living in fear,” which isn’t what personal safety is or should be about. And while the statistics on missing kids are alarming, the numbers are, fortunately, very low compared to the number of children currently being freaked out about by the concerned parents of America.