Anorak News | The Madeleine McCann GPS Locator For Your Potentially Missing Kids

The Madeleine McCann GPS Locator For Your Potentially Missing Kids

by | 20th, October 2009

mccann-madeleine4MADDIE WATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: Madeleine McCann’s name is being used in the context of a bit of kit that tags your kids.

Anna Maxted tests a new device that enables parents to track their child via satellite from a computer or mobile phone.

Anna Maxted is the Telegraph’s jobbing mum, which in the media makes her ideally placed to spread the panic about missing kidzzz. Because mums know best (in pictures).

The last time I mislaid a child – my four-year old, in the park, for 15 endless minutes – I wished unashamedly that he could be chipped, like the cat.

You mislaid a child? Surely you lose a child. You mislay your keys. Can you mislay a cat? Interestingly, one of Maxted’s kids – she has three boys – is called Oscar, which is a name ideally suited to a dog.

When Steve Salmon’s young daughter vanished during a family pub lunch (later found petting a pony in the adjacent field), he doubtless wished the same thing. Two years on, Salmon, chief executive of communications firm Lok8u, has launched the equally tongue-twisting NuM8, the world’s first GPS locator for children.

It’s not. A little research on the internet and Anorak finds this – and it is, like Maxted, beyond parody:

Child Locator as Featured in Duracell BrickHouse Child Locator Commercial; Distance Alerts help you keep a watchful eye on your wandering children, in a way that hasn’t been possible before. It’s Not You, All Children Wander; 2,185 Go Missing Every Day. Locate anything or anyone from 600 ft to an inch away. Get a warning from the custom distance alert or via included panic button tag.

It’s brought to you by Brickhouse Security. Brickhouse is a word usually joined to the word “shit”. You may also recall this warning from Anorak:

“New laws to regulate the use of high-tech child-tracking devices are being called for by MPs amid fears they could be used by paedophiles and stalkers. The technology is aimed at parents wanting to keep tabs on their children after a series of high-profile child murders and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann”

And there was this pair who rented out child tracking devices at the airport. While your stick your locator on the nose on your face, Maxted reviews her gadget:

To all appearances, it’s a chunky, child-friendly wristwatch, worn by the subject, that enables the fond parent to track their darling via satellite from a computer or mobile phone. But this is not a gadget for the morally squeamish. Behind the bright colours – choose from aqua blue, hot pink and lime green, or neutral black – the rubber strap contains a “web of reinforced steel”. If anyone – rebellious child or dastardly adult – attempts to remove the locator from its assigned wrist, Mummy or Daddy is alerted from their cappuccino via text…

Better if the in-built blowers began to shape the froth on the cappuccino to form the word “PAEDO” in chocolate.

According to the charity Missing Persons, formerly National Missing Persons Helpline, an estimated 140,000 children and young people run away or go missing every year in the United Kingdom. This, coupled with mothering three boys, has eroded my principles. I cannot wait to tag my kids.

That many, eh? How many are found alive and well? Maxted does not care to say.We do:

Tarling and Burrows’ 2004 study of Metropolitan Police missing person cases found that 99 per cent of cases were resolved within one year.

Any other facts?

A 2004 Home Office study (Newiss and Fairbrother, 2004: 1-6) found that, of the 798 police reports of child abduction and attempted child abduction in England and Wales that year:

• 56 per cent or all reports involved a stranger
• 47 per cent of all reports were ‘attempted child abductions by a stranger’
• 9 per cent of all reports were successful child abductions by a stranger


…of the 798 police reports of child abduction and attempted child abduction in England and Wales that year, 23 per cent involved abduction by a parent.

Back to Maxted of the cappuccino:

Guilt forces me to opt for full disclosure. I tell the seven-year-old, “This is like a Ben 10 watch. You wear it, and I track you, like the police track baddies who try to escape from prison.”

He can but try…

I hunch over my phone in the park café, compulsively following the blue balloon on the screen’s Googlemap that proves that Oscar is safe beyond the trees, racing down the hill on his scooter without a helmet.

No helmet? WTF??!!!

It’s a luxury to sit for five minutes and know that one’s offspring has not been dragged out of the park by a predator.

Mums, eh. Always on the go.

I know he is fine, because my husband has marked a “safe zone” on the map – if Oscar breaches the park perimeter, I receive a warning text, and ‘live tracking’ will commence.

What if your husband’s taken him? What then?

Yet, as the locator doesn’t record heights, there’s always the chance that he might climb a tree – and, sipping espresso while staring at the screen balloon on my phone, if he fell out, I’d be none the wiser until the ambulance arrived.

Cappuccino. Espresso. We’re not medical experts, but we’d consider cutting down on the caffeine.

Suddenly, I feel NuM8’s reassurance is insufficient. I’m ready to step surveillance up a level. Might I suggest the next generation wristwatch comes with a hidden micro-camera, angled at my child’s face?

Then you can watch him being assaulted, smashing his head open or sobbing in real time?

This may be why, when I describe my new toy to Honor Rhodes, director of development at the Family and Parenting Institute, she is unimpressed. “Is this,” she says, “a symptom of panic-stricken but lazy parenting? I wonder what it is that we are trying to guard against, and I think it is that we don’t want our child to be Madeleine McCann. While that was so terrible, the worst thing that could possibly occur, it happens incredibly rarely. Your child is more likely to be struck by lightning.”

Was the media’s Our Maddie struck by lightning?

My resolve is tested when the three-year-old disappears into a school playground. He eventually turns up, happy and breathless, after a game of chase with the big children. I say sternly: “I didn’t know where you were, and I was frightened. Do not run off again!”

At which point he sobs and the big kids point and laugh heartily?

Meanwhile, Over in New Zealand, the tragic death of young child is the subject of the big debate: Aisling Symes was not abducted.

It is “Every parent’s secret dread“.

The tragic story of Aisling Symes captured so many hearts because it was a “lightning rod of dread” for all parents.

And then this:

The spectre of international cases, such as James Bulger, JonBenet Ramsey, and Madeleine McCann are buried deep in parental psyches, she says. However, when these cases are international, we can register but ignore them, she says. Suddenly, a child was missing in New Zealand and all those demons emerged.

And the global media reacts…

Madeleine McCann is missing – still missing. There are no suspects. there is no evidence of what happened to her. Her parents are innocent. Her name is being used to sell goods and services…

Posted: 20th, October 2009 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann Comments (10) | TrackBack | Permalink