Fact check: False claim that Texas is distributing DNA kits to identify victims of mass shootings
31st October 2022

The claim: Texas is distributing DNA kits to identify children in school shootings

The 2022 gubernatorial race in Texas has focused on gun control and school violence in the wake of the June mass shooting that left 19 children and two adults dead in Uvalde.

Some social media users claim Texas is implementing a new policy in schools to address mass shootings.

"So, in the state of Texas – instead of making sure kids don't get shot in school, they are sending children home with DNA kits so their parents can identify them in case they murdered?!?" reads an Instagram post shared Oct. 19.

"This is unacceptable and should be a clear indication of where the 'pro-life' party stands on the value of a child's life," the post's caption reads.

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The post generated more than 3,000 likes in less than a week. Similar posts have amassed hundreds of likes on Twitter.

But the claim is baseless.

The distribution of DNA kits has nothing to do with mass shootings, Texas school officials told USA TODAY. They are tied to prevention of child trafficking. The post misrepresents a provision ina state law that went into effect in 2021.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the claim for comment.

DNA kits not related to mass shootings

The social media post misrepresents a provision in state Senate Bill 2175, which passed during the 2021 legislative session and went into effect that September. The legislation amended the Texas Education Code to require the Texas Education Agency to distribute "inkless, in-home fingerprint and DNA identification kits" to school districts.

Families can request these kits from schools to keep and submit to federal, state, tribal or local law enforcement in situations where their child goes missing or is trafficked, according to the legislation.

A spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency told USA TODAY in an email the kits "are not distributed as a means of victim identification following a mass casualty incident," and their usage is completely voluntary.

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Kathy Martinez-Prather, director of the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University, also told USA TODAY in an email that Texas schools are not distributing the DNA kits to identify students in school shootings.

The DNA kits were distributed beginning in October to children between kindergarten and eighth grade, according to Kenny Hansmire, the executive director of the National Child Identification Program, which is working with the Texas Education Agency to create and distribute these kits.

Texas has previously initiated a statewide distribution of child identification kits, as the Associated Press reported. For example, between 2006 and 2007, the state provided funding for more than two million school children to get an identification kit, according to the National Child Identification Program. 

VERIFY and the AP also debunked the claim.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Texas is distributing DNA kits to identify children in school shootings. The DNA kits that are being distributed to school districts in Texas are meant to locate children who have gone missing or are trafficked. Families can obtain these kits upon request and use them in case of those emergencies.

Our fact-check sources:

  • VERIFY, Oct. 21, No, Texas schools aren’t distributing DNA kits to identify kids in school shootings

  • Kathy Martinez-Prather, Oct, 25, Email exchange with USA TODAY

  • Texas Education Agency, Oct. 25, Email exchange with USA TODAY

  • Kenny Hansmire, Oct. 25, Phone interview with USA TODAY

  • CNN, Oct. 24, Child ID kits provided to Texas students are intended to find missing children, officials say – not identify victims of school shootings like Uvalde

  • Associated Press, Oct. 25, Texas student DNA kit law not prompted by school shootings

  • Texas government, accessed Oct. 26, S.B. No. 2158

  • National Childhood Identification Program, accessed Oct. 26, PROGRAM HISTORY

  • Texas government, accessed Oct. 26, Texas Education Code

  • USA TODAY, Oct. 22, Six mass shootings and 90 dead. What has Texas Gov. Greg Abbott done and has it been enough?

  • USA TODAY, Oct. 25, 2018, 'I will never be the same person I was': Texas town still reeling after Santa Fe school shooting

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: False claim links DNA kit to school shootings in Texas

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