gps tracking childrenThis week, the ladies of The View started quite the discussion here on Mommyish when they proposed implanting microchips in children, like you would a pet. Whoopi Goldberg first mentioned the idea while the ladies were discussing the infamous Etan Patz case that really introduced parents to the dangers of missing children.

The basic conclusion of the panel was that if its good enough for your Shih Tzu, it should be good enough for your children. This way we would be able to find a young child if they were abducted.

First of all, as some of our wonderful readers noted, that’s not exactly the way that microchips work. Terri was the first to explain,

“Pet microchips don’t work like GPS trackers; rather, they can be scanned if a lost pet is brought into a shelter or vet clinic, in order to access the owner’s contact information. The women of The View don’t understand how microchips even work, which is only the first problem with this idea.”

And possibly my favorite response to this idea, again pointing out that microchips don’t work as GPS, came from Katie, who did an awesome job reminding us that children are not animals.

“I like this idea.

I will get my daughter chipped, that way, when she runs away in a thunderstorm because someone left the gate open, someone can just find her, take her to the vet and have her scanned and call me.”

But, even with all the dismissive and negative feedback that this zany little idea created, there were still plenty of parents who seemed to believe that a GPS tracker for children wouldn’t be a bad idea. Amy brought up another famous missing persons case and the impact it made on her.

“Yes. When I was 13 Jennifer Odom disappeared. She only needed to go 300ft to her house from the step off the school bus. It took a bit to find her body. Still Unsolved. Even if it’s worst case scenario, of I can get my pit bull back, I want the same service afforded to protecting my kids.”

I think the very existence of a segment on television talking about GPS trackers in our kids demonstrates just how scared normal parents are about their children’s safety. No matter what the crime rate may be, bad things still happen and parents are still desperate to protect their children from harm. One reader, Rebecca, had a pretty idea of a less permanent way to help keep track of young children who might wonder off. Her suggestion:

“I’d be interested in GPS jewelry for kids. Something you can remove easily, but isn’t so obvious that a kidnapper would recognize what it is. It would be great if only you had access to the GPS signal, say through your phone or something. I go into NYC a lot, which is challenging with two preschoolers. If one slips away at the giant toys r us a lot of panic attacks could be averted.”

To that end, there actually are a variety of GPS trackers that are available for cautious parents looking to keep their young children safe. But none of these options would be cheap. Companies have designed GPS units that can be placed in jewelry, clothing or bookbags, so that your children could be monitored at any time. Once the kids get older, you could stop asking them to wear the GPS device. (Or they could “lose” it, because I have a feeling that most tweens and teens wouldn’t want you tracking their every step.)

With all this talk of tracking kids in case of the worst, I think it’s important to note that parents should be educating their children about stranger danger and safe practices as well. GPS might locate your child after the unthinkable has happened, but we all want to avoid that final precaution. On the Mommyish Facebook page, Joan reminded us of the importance of educating our kids.

“I’d rather work towards making society safe and/or teaching my kids how to deal with dangerous situations – a sense of personal power.”

The pet-inspired microchip idea might not make it to common practice, but I think that parents are still looking for ways to protect their children, even from the most unlikely of threats. These are our precious bundles of joy, and it’s hard to let go of our control and trust them to be safe out in the world without us. We can’t protect children from everything, but I think there are a lot of parents that want to try to do just that.

So will GPS be the answer to those parents’ problems? Microchips may be out, but would you have your children carry around a GPS tracker, just in case the worst happens?

(Photo: Mother Board)