FBI's Child ID iPhone app 'putting safety in your hands'

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PHOENIX -- With the disappearance of 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley making national headlines, children's safety is on the minds of many.

According to the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies throughout the country, the first 48 hours are crucial when a child goes missing. The better prepared you are to help police who are trying to find your child, the more effective they can be during those all-important hours.

The FBI has developed a smartphone app designed specifically to help authorities find your child should the unthinkable happen. According to the FBI's website, that app is "putting safety in your hands."

The FBI Child ID app, the first mobile app developed by the FBI, gives you a convenient and easily accessibly place to store photos and vital information about your children. For additional security, you can password-protect that data. Neither the FBI nor iTunes collects and stores anything entered into the app. It lives only on your smartphone.

Not only does the apps put essential information literally at your fingertips, allowing you to instantly share identifying information with police and others, it also allows you to easily send that information to law-enforcement agencies with just a couple of clicks.

Basically you create a profile for each of your children, including his or her full name, a current photo, a details description and contact information for you. The key is to keep that information as up-to-date as possible.

The iPhone app is almost a digital companion to the National Child Identification Program Kit, which is provided by the American Football Coaches Association in partnership with the FBI. The NCIP Kit lets you take your child's fingerprints and collect DNA samples to have on hand.

Launched in early August, the free FBI Child ID app has been downloaded from Apple's iTunes App Store more than 80,000 times.

Radio personality Mathew Blades of Mix 96.9 is one of those 80,000.

"I just think, as a dad … this is a really cool thing to have instant access to …," he told 3TV"s resident mom-to-be, Kaley O'Kelley. "In the event that you ever need it, you know that it's there."

In addition to being an information repository, the also offers tips on keeping children safe, checklists for parents and provides specific guidance on what you need to do in the first 24 hours should your child go missing. There's also guidance for the second 24 hours if your child is not found quickly.

While the app is only available for the iPhone right now, the FBI says it plans to make the free tool available on other mobile devices in the near future.