What would you do if your child went missing?

I was lucky enough to attend my first CHiP event last week, conveniently at my hospital, on a day that I happened to work. I think that the CHiP program is important enough, and prevalent enough within Masonry, that I wanted to help spread the word.

What’s this about chips?

CHiP (sometimes called Masonichip) is the Masonic child identification program, designed to help the authorities find missing children. Here’s how it works: you take your child to a CHiP event, and they will make you a packet for your child, including digital still photo, fingerprints, a DNA sample (from a mouth swab), a short video, a scent pad (for scent dogs), and dental imprints. You get to keep all of the information, there is no giant database that all of this information is kept in, in fact, they delete all of the information after they create your kit, so if you lose any part of it, you will need to go to a new event and remake the part that you lost (or make a new kit). Currently more than 1.5 million kits have been completed in the United States (I believe the program is also in Canada). The program is free of charge.

What does this have to do with Masonry?

The CHiP program is 100% Mason owned and operated, in fact, it was created at the 2004 conference of Grand Masters. It is a charitable initiative, and is primarily funded by the jurisdiction’s Grand Lodge. All CHiP events are staffed by volunteers from local lodges (depending on your jurisdiction, one lodge may always volunteer, or there may be a rotation system). It serves as a wonderful opportunity for you to donate your time to give back to the community, and the idea of helping create something tangible (the kit), may give more of a sense of satisfaction than simply donating money.

Of course, no Masonic charity is without it’s bling. CHiP offers scarves and ties. They are covered in rainbow hand prints, to remind us of the impressions that child leave on our lives. They are kind of loud- but that is the idea here, it gets people to ask, “What’s up with that tie?” Apparently, all brothers that are lawyers will wear them to court when the case involves children in any manner (how cool!). You can order them here.

I was lucky enough to attend my first CHiP event last week, conveniently at my hospital, on a day that I happened to work. I think that the CHiP program is important enough, and prevalent enough within Masonry, that I wanted to help spread the word.

I thought the police department did this?

In some states, the local police or fire department runs a different kind of program. Interestingly, the program that the authorities used is actually based on CHiP, not the other way around. The main difference between the public (police, fire, etc) and the private (Masonic) programs is the way in which the information is handled. In the public programs, all of the information is stored in a searchable database, that the authorities have access to at a moment’s notice. In the CHiP program, however, there is no database, all of the information is deleted after it is confirmed correct and placed in your kit, and you are the only one that has access to the information. This is why if you lose any part of the kit, you have to go and make a new one.

I read about Take 25, what’s that about?

The CHiP program started working in collaboration with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2007 to create a program called Take 25. The idea is simple. Take 25 minutes of your time, to have a conversation with your children (or kids you babysit, friends your kids have over, younger siblings, etc), about safety and abduction prevention. It’s 25 minutes, and not 30, to correspond with National Missing Children’s Day, May 25. Their website has a number of resources available, including conversation starters, safety tips, and general information for you, as well as for your child. It’s a little bit like talking with kids about drugs. You don’t want to think that it will happen, you don’t want to even think about it, but it is more important to talk about it with your kiddos than to ignore the fact that it happens every day. The CHiP program mixes in with the idea of Take25, any child old enough to speak will ask what’s going on, making it a perfect time to talk with them in the event that an abduction or similar would happen. In fact, all CHiP events are also Take25 events, and information for both will be readily available.

Do these programs actually have an impact?

While we can’t be for certain, it’s clear that having programs like CHiP and Take25 are far better than children having no education about the topic, and you having no similar records of them at all. 

Here are some statistics:

  • Approximately 800,000 children younger than 18 were reported missing, since 1999.
    • More than 200,000 children were abducted by family members.
    • More than 58,000 children were abducted by non-family members.
    • An estimated 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. 
    • The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 193,705 missing children since it was founded in 1984. Their  recovery rate for missing children has grown from 62 percent in 1990 to 97 percent today.
  • The MasoniChip program has generated over 1.5 Million “Completed ID Packs” of children for parents since 2004
    • It has conducted over 15,000 events in America alone
      • My home state has held over 311 events, making packets for 37,577 children
    • They have identified over 4,200 children

How can I get involved?

Number one, best answer, hands down- volunteer your time. The events do not run themselves, and in fact take a good deal of man power to put on, especially the larger events. Volunteer with your lodge buddies, or your SO, volunteering for children is a wonderful opportunity. If you are not able to volunteer your time, funds are most often needed when starting up a CHiP program, as the computers are all dedicated for the program, and therefore can become fairly costly. Ask your Worshipful Master if the program is run by Masons in your state, I believe about 18 jurisdictions run the program at this time. If it is not offered in your state, get together with the right people, and get it started. There are also a number of resources available for starting up a program, found here. Each jurisdiction’s program has their own website, which can usually be found on the corresponding Grand Lodge’s website. There is a place to find local events on the main site, but I am not sure that it is working at this time. 

The MasoniChip program’s website is here.

I sincerely hope no one ever needs the information obtained through CHiP, but I would much rather that you have that information!

Have a great week!

3 thoughts on “What would you do if your child went missing?

  1. Pingback: What a Relief! | The Mason's Lady

  2. Pingback: A year with The Mason’s Lady | The Mason's Lady

  3. Pingback: Shout Out for CHiP | The Mason's Lady

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