Name Cards and Security Theater

#2’s school has recently implemented a new system for picking up children from school in the afternoon: the Name Card.

Now, anybody retrieving a child must show the hot pink Name Card bearing the child’s name and the school’s name and logo. We are assured that this system is intended to help ensure our children’s safety.

Among the many practical questions that spring to mind, I wonder if this hot pink Name Card will be as effective as the school thinks. Perhaps. But I want to propose a couple more effective systems.[1]

What if the school adopted the hot pink Name Poster. Think about it. A single sheet of 8.5 x 11” hot pink paper is easily reproduced on any laser printer. Child’s name clearly printed in 48pt Helvetica Bold and you’ve got a new Name Card. Ditch the forged Name Card in a binder, a notebook, a purse, and nobody walking down the street would ever know your nefarious plans. By contrast, a hot pink Name Poster, say 24 x 36” with the child’s name in 144pt Helvetica Bold would be much hard to copy and even harder to hide. Only parents and 5-year-old kids would suffer the indignity of being seen in public with a hot pink Name Poster (the 5-year-olds might revel in having to walk down the street holding a hot pink Name Poster). As promising as this solution is, I think there’s yet a better one.

Hot Pink Name Jumpsuits coming to your school soon.

Hot Pink Name Jumpsuits coming to your school soon (adapted from here).

The hot pink Name Jumpsuit. Blazoned across the front of the hot pink Name Jumpsuit would be the child’s name in 144pt Helvetica Bold. The school’s official patch could be sew onto the shoulder. Across the back in equally large type could be the school’s name along with the parent’s and a school-assigned number.

Only adults wearing these hot pink Name Jumpsuits would be allowed to retrieve a child from school. Not only would it allow for quick identification but criminals apparently don’t like wearing hot pink, thereby deterring would-be criminals from even considering any fiendish acts. The hot pink Name Jumpsuit brings two further benefits: First, parents foolish enough to help with in-class projects could wear the hot pink Name Jumpsuit to protect their good clothing. Second, it would allow parents to address each other quickly and easily with the Universal Parent Identifier (UPID), “So-and-so’s Parent,” thereby avoiding those awkward post-introduction questions: “Whose parent are you?”

  1. I hope the sarcasm in this post is not lost on readers. I appreciate any school’s efforts to protect students, particularly if I think those efforts will make any child’s life safer. Poorly or hastily implemented systems, however, seem more a hassle and risk becoming just security theater, which thereby distracts us from possibly real measures that we could take.  ↩