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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Invention aims to keep children safe
Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman
Holly and Jessica were abducted and murdered
A Kent man has invented a device which can keep track of youngsters, as a survey reveals parents are more protective of their children following the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Kidcontact is a two-way security system that allows parents to monitor and communicate with their child.

The innovation comes as just over seven out of 10 parents said they were more fearful about the safety of their son or daughter in the aftermath of the tragic deaths of Holly and Jessica from Soham, in Cambridgeshire.

The Mori poll found 60% of parents were now less likely to let their son or daughter out of their sight to play or see friends.

Parental fears
71% of parents are more fearful for their children's safety
60% are now less likely to let children out of their sight
52% of non-parents under 45 worry about bringing up children in this country with one in eight saying it has made them think again about having children at all
84% of people said they were now more likely to keep an eye out for possible child abuse.
69% of parents said they felt under more pressure to supervise their children.

The killings have also had an impact on people without children, with 52% of those under the age of 45 saying they now worry more about bringing children up in Britain.

Twelve per cent also said the tragedy had made them think twice about having a child.

Kidcontact uses both global positioning satellite (GPS) and mobile phone technology, letting parents know exactly where their children are.

The technology also allows a child to alert their parents in an emergency at the click of a button.

Button sensor

A 'button' sensor is worn on the outside of a jumper or shirt, attached to the GPS tracking device.

The manufacturers claim because the button is disguised as a patch or badge on the child's clothing, a potential abductor would never know the device is there.

At any sign of trouble, the child presses it and a signal is sent to the parent's mobile phone with the child's location displayed.

The inventor, John Bell from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, was inspired to create kidcontact as a result of his own concern for his grandchildren.

Kidcontact is attached to a girl's jacket
Kidcontact is 'disguised' as a badge

"The threat to children will never diminish but we don't have to feel helpless," he said.

"My invention may not prevent all child abductions but if it acts as a deterrent or helps just one child it is certainly worth it."

The system could be available by Christmas and there are also plans to market the product for other vulnerable people such as the elderly.

The survey was carried out just over a month after Holly and Jessica vanished on 4 August.

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18 Sep 02 | England
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