Do you have an iPhone?

Are you a parent?

Now, your phone can help you protect your children.

The FBI has released the Child ID App, available through iTunes for the iPhone. The free mobile application is available for download from the App Store on iTunes. It allows you to store photographs of your children, as well as other important information about what to do in those critical hours after a child goes missing. Then, you can quickly e-mail your child's information to law enforcement authorities with the push of a touchscreen.

The application also includes child safety advice and checklists for parents. In announcing the new service, the FBI stressed that none of the data stored on the application is collected or stored by the FBI or iTunes. The data stays only on your iPhone until you need to send it to police in an emergency.

It is the first mobile application created by the FBI.

Officials at the FBI are encouraging people to spread the word about the Child ID App with family and friends. The FBI is working to publicize the app with the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) -- its longtime partner in the National Child Identification Program, which provides a physical kit to gather your child's pictures, fingerprints, personal characteristics and even DNA to keep with you in case of emergency. The AFCA is producing a public service announcement about the app and will spread the word at football games during the upcoming season.

For now, the FBI Child ID App is available only for the iPhone through iTunes. FBI officials say they hope to expand its availability to other mobile electronic devices soon.

A child in the United States goes missing every 40 seconds, federal officials say. This could help some of those children and their parents be reunited quickly.

For more information about the FBI's Child ID App, go to www.startribune.com/a592.

James Walsh • 612-673-7428