Friday, May 23, 2008

Lifetouch And The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children Continue Commitment To Keep Kids Safe With Smilesafe Kids® And Take 25

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) and Lifetouch, the nation’s largest school photography company, are continuing their commitment to child safety by encouraging parents, guardians and other adult role models to talk to their kids about safety and to keep an up-to-date photo of their child available at all times in case of an emergency.

Because having a current image is so important in the search for a missing child, NCMEC partnered with Lifetouch to develop the SmileSafe Kids® program. One of the largest child safety initiatives in the country, SmileSafe Kids has helped in the recovery of 10 missing children in nine different states since 2004 as a direct result of someone recognizing them from the image provided by Lifetouch.

“Since this partnership started nearly five years ago, the response from families and schools has been tremendous,” said Bruce Martin, Vice President Marketing of Lifetouch National School Studios. “Through our relationship with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’ve been able to provide parents and guardians important and useful tools to help keep children safe at no cost to families.”

The SmileSafe Kids program features a 24 hours a day, seven days a week rapid-response system. If a child is reported missing, Lifetouch will provide the child’s image to NCMEC. Lifetouch will only provide the image to NCMEC if it is requested and verified by the child’s parent or guardian. In addition, two free photo identification cards are given to parents and guardians featuring the most current school portrait of their child. Each child’s identification card has a Safety ID number which Lifetouch uses to accurately locate and retrieve a child’s image. This number is unique to Lifetouch and does not contain any personal information about the child.

“In the case of a missing child it is important that the search begins immediately,” said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC. “That is why our partnership with Lifetouch is so important, because it can put the child’s photograph in the hands of law enforcement within minutes. A photo is the most critical tool in the search for a missing child and we have been proud to partner with Lifetouch on this effort.”

Since October 2004, Lifetouch has distributed more than 90 million photo identification cards. Two SmileSafe Kids identification cards are sent to the parent or guardian of every K-8 child photographed by Lifetouch in participating schools, free of charge even if no portraits were ordered.

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