This article teaches kids how the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use fingerprint science to solve crimes and find criminals. Interested kids can capture their own fingerprints on the free printable fingerprint card. Instructions for collecting fingerprints are presented in the article Fingerprint Science Project for Kids.
Why Use Fingerprints?
Fingerprint identification is a great way to tell people apart because everyone's fingerprints are different. No two people in the entire world have the same fingerprints. While other attributes like hair color, height, weight, and eye color can change as a person ages, fingerprints remain the same throughout a person's life.
The FBI has more than 250 million sets of fingerprints on record. And space is running short. Due to physical space constraints to hold all these records, the FBI is now transferring the cards into digital format. Images of fingerprint cards can now be stored on computers. You can print out your own fingerprint card here: Printable Fingerprint Card.
Fingerprint Records: Not Just For Criminals
In addition to identifying criminals, the FBI also keeps fingerprints on record for many other applications. For example, people who work for the government or apply for a job with the government have their prints taken as a matter of course. Many bank employees have their fingerprints taken as part of the bonding insurance process.
Fingerprinting may even help prevent crimes. Many military bases and government buildings use computers to check fingerprints of employers before they can be admitted to secure areas. Many parents have fingerprints for kids taken in case the child ever gets lost or abducted, they will have a record of your fingerprints to give to the police.
DNA Profiles & Polygraph Testing
Fingerprint science is a great way to identify people, but fingerprints are not the only tools available to law enforcement. DNA profiles and polygraph tests are important for solving crimes of all kinds.
Inside each of us are millions of cells containing tiny particles called DNA. This material is in our hair, blood, saliva, skin, and bones. Together these particles create a unique code that can be used as identification. Only identical twins share DNA coding (but their fingerprints are not the same!). DNA is an especially important tool for solving crimes where no fingerprints can be found.
The polygraph, or lie detector, test is another important tool to help law enforcement solve crimes. A polygraph machine measures how a person's body reacts to questions. When an examiner asks a series of questions, the subject's reactions are recorded by the machine's sensors. Different types of questions help the examiner know whether the person is lying or telling the truth.
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Jarek on May 15, 2008: