Human Exceptionalism

Peditrician Spies in Massachusetts

This story is disturbing on several levels. Apparently in Massachusetts, pediatricians are grilling their child patients with questions to invade family privacy. From a column in the Boston Herald, byline Michael Graham:

I found this out after my 13-year-old daughter’s annual checkup. Her pediatrician grilled her about alcohol and drug abuse. Not my daughter’s boozing. Mine.

“The doctor wanted to know how much you and mom drink, and if I think it’s too much,” my daughter told us afterward, rolling her eyes in that exasperated 13-year-old way. “She asked if you two did drugs, or if there are drugs in the house.”

“What!” I yelped. “Who told her about my stash, er, I mean, ‘It’s an outrage!'” I turned to my wife. “You took her to the doctor. Why didn’t you say something? She couldn’t, she told me, because she knew nothing about it. All these questions were asked in private, without my wife’s knowledge or consent.

So, this is what we are coming to: Parents authority is continually undermined because we insist on treating some minors as if they were adults, for example, by keeping some serious medical issues involving children–such as (I believe) abortion, presence of a sexually transmitted disease, and mental health counseling–secret from parents, while at the same time, doctors pry into family life, e.g. drinking, gun ownership, by grilling children in private with inappropriately intrusive questions.

Here’s more from the column:

Thanks to guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and supported by the commonwealth, doctors across Massachusetts are interrogating our kids about mom and dad’s “bad” behavior.We used to be proud parents. Now, thanks to the AAP, we’re “persons of interest.”

The paranoia over parents is so strong that the AAP encourages doctors to ignore “legal barriers and deference to parental involvement” and shake the children down for all the inside information they can get.

If a doctor sees evidence of abuse or neglect, he or she is professionally and legally bound to learn what is going on and report the problem to authorities. But this intrusion into family undermines family cohesion and promotes moral values that a family may not share. And perhaps, that is the point.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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