The thought of my children being stolen or getting lost and then hurt absolutely terrorizes me. In fact, as the mother of twin toddlers, I have not gone to places with my children alone just because I thought it might be too crowded for me to keep track of two little ones that could disappear quickly in a throng of people. A British professor might have the answer to ease parents concerns — an implant.
Reading University Cybernetics Professor Kevin Warwick has developed an inch-long microchip that can be implanted in a child that can locate that child within a few meters. Although the chip is not meant to track your child 24/7, it can be activated in an emergency to locate your child.
Apparently Warwick’s chip was ready for testing in 2002, but his volunteer backed out after intense media scrutiny. Since then Warwick has not proceeded with developing the implant nationally due to backlash over the ethicalness of the project.
But with an increase in children being snatched not just in public, but from their own homes, as was the case for Madeleine McCanne in Portugal, Warwick’s inbox is filling with requests from concerned parents wanting the implant for their children.
Would you be willing to implant your child if it could keep them safe?
I know that I couldn’t. Heck, I can’t even implant my dog, or get him the tattoo, because I think it’s mean. In fact, the whole idea of implants sounds too much like one of those sci fi movies where the government controls everyone’s moves.
Yes, I’m probably over-reacting, but I think I have some valid concerns. If my children have implants for me to track them, what prevents the government or some other governing organization from tracking them too? Or worse yet, what guarantee do I have that some sex offender won’t hack the system and use the implant to target my child? Not to mention that I’m not eager to insert anything foreign into my child’s body that isn’t medically necessary. The presence of the implant alone could trigger a medical condition in my children.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to protect my children. I am very afraid that I’ll look away for a brief moment and my children will wander away and get hurt, or worse, someone will take them. But I think I still have quite a few options towards protecting my children in public — taking another adult with me to crowded places, putting the children in a stroller/cart/wagon and simply holding hands. At home, I rely on locked doors and windows and two very protective dogs.
However, I am not opposed to some less intrusive means of being able to locate my kids.
When they are old enough, I plan for my children to have cell phones with GPS locators. I am particularly impressed with Disney Mobile.
I am interested in something that I can use to track my children if they are lost or abducted, not to keep tabs on them 24/7. Some companies are offering wristbands or clothing. I like this idea better than implants because I can put them on my children when I head to a very crowded public place (i.e. theme park), but they don’t need to wear daily.
Globalpoint Technologies is now offering a wrist band called the Personal Companion that could be hidden under the child’s clothes. Using a combination of GPS and mobile phone technology, the armband can be used to track your child within two meters.
Similarly, Connect Software is offering daycares the ToddlerTag in clothing. The ToddlerTag uses active Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to track a child.
It’s true that both of these devices, along with cell phones and other similar tools can be discarded by the abductor before they can be used to locate a child. However, I still prefer these devices to an intrusive implant. And who’s to say an abductor wouldn’t cut out the implant or worse to disable it.
I think all parents should be a little paranoid about the safety of their child. Nevertheless, our children are still people and we must respect their rights. Implants seem way too “big brother-ish” for my tastes.
I know that good parenting and common sense might not be enough to keep my child safe. But at this time, I’m satisfied to rely on these skills instead of crossing an ethical line with my children.
However, I am interested in hearing what you as a parent think. What lengths are you willing to go to to keep your child safe?