New program provides Child Safety, Identify Protection, Peace of Mind
Last year, law enforcement agencies were contacted 620,000 times by parents who didn’t know the whereabouts of their children. According to the 2008 FBI statistics, every day in the US some 1,700 juveniles are entered in the Missing Persons database.
Those staggering numbers concerned St. Louis County resident Bob Bira, who with his partner Kevin Dill, created My Child Safeguard, a program designed to protect the identity of children and possibly prevent their abductions.
“The vast majority of parents write their child’s name on the back of his or her backpack. All they’re concerned about at the time is making sure little Johnnie gets his backpack back if he leaves it somewhere. But by doing that, they’re unknowingly increasing the chances of him becoming a victim of abduction because they’ve given a predator an easy way to approach their child,” he said. “With our system, parents who subscribe to our service are provided with tags that include a number to be called if the item is found, or their child is involved in an accident, becomes ill, or someone needs their parent immediately. When the call is made to the number, it is automatically forwarded to the parent’s cell phone, keeping that cell phone number private to protect the parent’s identify as well.”
Bira, CEO and co-owner of the company, said subscription to the service also includes bright yellow wristbands imprinted with the same contact number for children to wear.
“Let’s say you’re separated from your child at Six Flags. Instead of that child being forced to sit and wait while park employees get the child’s name and then page the parent, all they have to do is pick up the phone, dial the number on the wristband and they’re immediately connected to the parent’s cell phone,” he said.
My Child Safeguard is a component of My Contact411, a fully automated system that allows subscribers, who are charged a fee of $5 per month, to be contacted on their cell phones in other instances as well. In addition to the wristbands and luggage-type tags, members are also provided with window decals and stickers that can be placed on their homes and businesses, or directly on personal property such as phones or electronics.
“Last week an officer drove by my house, noticed the garage door was up and a truck that he hadn’t seen before was parked in my driveway. He walked up to my house, called the number on the sticker, which immediately patched him thru to me, and I told him the truck belonged to my cleaning people. The matter was cleared up in minutes,” Bira said, adding that users can also register medical conditions, allergies, or other info to help in an emergency. “For instance, I posted a sticker on my parents’ home that links to my cell phone. That way if something happens to them, a neighbor or police can get in touch with me immediately.”
Bira, whose mother served in municipal government most of his growing up years, has always had close ties with law enforcement officers. He said because he knows the program will make officers’ jobs a little easier, he and Dill decided to invite all law enforcement agencies to partner with the company by promoting the service on their websites or in newsletters. In return, participating agencies will receive cash back for every family that subscribe to the monthly service. Contact Bira directly to setup a program for your community by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schools can also benefit by using Field Trip Safeguard, based on the same patent-pending service as My Contact411. The tool, purchased by schools and organizations, is designed to protect children’s identities and create a direct link to the teacher while off school property. An annual fee of $135 provides 30 bright yellow lanyards bearing a contact number assigned to the school. At the beginning of the trip, the teacher uses a code to access the system and enter his or her cell phone number so when the assigned number is dialed, the call is immediately forwarded to that teacher’s phone.
“On field trips, usually the kids wear name tags, matching T-shirts with their names printed on the back or lanyards around their necks bearing their names in nice bold letters for everyone to see, again making the child an easy mark for a predator who can walk up, know the child’s name and tell him or her that the teacher is looking for them. The child, who usually doesn’t know everyone that accompanies the class on the field trip, leaves with that person and is never seen again,” Bira said, adding that in addition to assisting in cases of separation, the program also protects the teacher’s identity by eliminating display of that teacher’s cell phone on the lanyards.
And just like the law enforcement program, schools can take part in a cash-back program that will provide $10 for each family subscribing to the My Child Safeguard service.