(FOX 9) - According to the FBI, a child goes missing in America every 40 seconds.
Some of those children never come home. So the FBI is asking parents to do their part by downloading a free app to help with those investigations.
“It's a rare situation that a child goes missing, although there are many thousands who are. But it's not a rare occasion for a child to get separated from mom and dad at the mall, or get separated from mom and dad at the State Fair,” said Kevin Smith, Public Affairs Officer with the FBI.
The FBI’s Child ID app allows parents to upload photos of their kids, along with descriptive information like height and weight.
“You don't have time or maybe the wherewithal mentally to start looking for pictures of your child and sending them to law enforcement,” Smith said.
Parents play a crucial role in making sure the app works. Because children change so often, the FBI wants parents to update the photos and information on the app regularly.
“As we all know from our social media sites, parents are quite adept at updating photographs of their children as they grow older. We ask that them to download this app, and maybe do the very same thing on the app, in case something happens and they need to get to law enforcement quickly,” Smith said.
The app lets parents immediately send the info to the law enforcement organization they choose.
The FBI recommends parents upload different types of photos including head shots, full-body images and different angles.
“To have this app downloaded on your phone, have all your children's information right there, click it to law enforcement right away, really saves a lot of time. And as we all know, time is of the essence when you're looking for a missing child,” Smith said.
Parents can also call 911 directly from the app, and there are tips on what to do in the first 24 or 48 hours after a child goes missing.
According to the FBI, all of the information and photos stay on your phone and are not stored or used by the FBI unless they are sent to law enforcement.