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Schools Obligated To Inform Parents Teen Preg

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June 29th, 2008, 09:02 PM
Live4Love's Avatar Super Mommy
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 993
Certain counties in my state have implemented a new law requiring schools (teachers, nurses, administrators, counselors) to inform parents of a suspected teen pregnancy. These counties are saying that if a student approaches any school official for advice or help or even a suspicious question about teenage pregnancy, that official is legally obligated to inform the parents of that teen.

What are your opinions? Agree? Disagree? Why?

My Opinion...
Personally, coming from a high school teacher's perspective, it completely disregards any confidentiality that a student has with a counselor or adult that they feel comfortable discussing the matter with. I am very shocked that the school districts would think that it was a good idea to make us liable for something like that. If a student feels comfortable enough speaking to any adult in their life about something as big as pregnancy, isn't it better that we allow a student to do so instead of saying that if they do, we automatically HAVE to inform their parents?? Doesn't that just make a scared student even more scared to confide in any adult about the situation?? If the student was a threat to themselves or others, then I agree in informing parents... but I think that students should be given the opportunity to talk about it and then wait until they are ready to tell their parents on their own.

The reason I bring up this topic is because I had one of my seniors who was acting differently in class. She is typically a straight A student who always participates, but I had noticed a negative change in her. When she failed one of my tests, I asked her to stay after for a minute. I told her I was concerned and I suggested that she let me write her a note to go to her guidance counselor. She politely refused, told me everything was fine, and went to her next class. The following day she came to my classroom during lunch crying. She told me that she had been dating her boyfriend for over a year and they were sexually active, but he dumped her. And now she had missed her period for two months in a row. She was too scared to take a pregnancy test, too scared to go to her parents, too scared to talk to her ex-boyfriend about it, too scared to do anything. I let her eat her lunch in my classroom and I talked to her about the situation, but I did let her know before we discussed the issue that I would have to take it to the school psychologist (for liability reasons), and she understood. I didn't want her confiding in me and then feeling like I turned on her by telling the school psychologist behind her back. Anyway, after my talk with her, I went and talked to the psych and because this student was comfortable talking to me, I then met with both the student and the psychologist together. I felt as though the psychologist was trained in helping students like this far better than I was, but I also wanted to support the student who had found trust in me. Both me and the psych continually suggested that she go to her parents about the situation, as we listened to her confide in us. We even offered to have the parents come into the school and have a meeting with us, if she'd feel more comfortable telling them in front of us. After two weeks, the student did open up to her parents about the situation... but I feel as though it was a good thing that she waited until she was comfortable (brave enough) to tell her parents on her own, and in the mean time she was able to speak to trustworthy adults about it instead of keeping it all bottled up inside and continuing to let her hurt her grades. Since she was 18, we were not required to inform her parents... but it got me thinking about other students who are younger than 18 and looking for an adult to turn to.

However, I am not a parent yet... so I am very interested to see what all of you think about this.
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June 29th, 2008, 11:31 PM
duality's Avatar Miss Mama
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Arizona
Posts: 4,158
Kudos to you for being so supportive of your student. As a teen parent, I think it's great that some teachers are as understanding and observing as you were in this situation.

I'm torn on this issue, really. I think that there are both positive and negative consequences of this new requirement. I do think that it violates a teen's right to confidentiality, though I think that in some cases it may be in the best interest of the teen and her potential child for the parents to be notified. IE: If the teen is hesitant about seeking prenatal care, having her parents notified may make it possible (if she isn't aware she can obtain prenatal care without their consent) for her to see a health professional. However, if the teen is not telling her parents because of abuse or for fear of being kicked out of her home, I would hope that more would be done than just a phone call to her parents.

So, I don't know just how I feel about it.

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June 29th, 2008, 11:40 PM
Mud235's Avatar Super Mom Extrodinaire
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,331
I don't agree with this. I believe that there should be some privacy. As a RN, I legally can not disclose medical information without a patient's consent.
(formerly HPGeek)
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June 30th, 2008, 04:48 AM
Mountain~Mama's Avatar ThePastHasNoPowerOverMe
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Maine
Posts: 24,476
It's been a really long time since I was a teenager but if I knew there was this kind of policy, I probably wouldn't feel comfortable confiding in a teacher. If I didn't want to go to my parent, why would I go to someone who I knew was going to tell my parent? I think this policy is going to hurt more than help.
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June 30th, 2008, 07:45 AM
TheOtherMichelle's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 8,765
I don't agree with this. I believe that there should be some privacy. As a RN, I legally can not disclose medical information without a patient's consent.[/b]
That's why I'm surprised that this is legal. Aren't teens under 18 still able to have privacy about their healthcare if they request it?

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June 30th, 2008, 07:58 AM
mommywannabe's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Indiana
Posts: 3,531
I am not lovin this new law at all!
Sure, as a parent I'd want to know if it were my daughter. However, I'd much rather her have other adults in the school to talk to if she felt she couldnt come to me right away. I would hope that I would instill in her some trust that she could come to me for anything. But if she felt at the time that she needed to bounce it off of a teacher she trusted or a school counselor. Then I would much rather he be able to do that and not be afraid they would tell me, then for her not to have anyone she felt she could talk to and the end consequences be bad. I'd hate for her to be thinking of abortion and be too scared to tell me, and have no one else to turn to, and in the end go through with it without having the proper counseling or at least a caring adult with her. Like I said, I'd like to think any child of mine could come to me no matter what. But if they DID have that fear of telling me something, I would much rather them have a trustworthy adult such as a teacher to talk to rather than no one...or worse yet, someone who could do more harm than good.

Mommy to 3 little monsters: "T" - 8 years old, "A" - 7 years old, & "Q" - 2 years old

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June 30th, 2008, 08:07 AM
SusieQ2's Avatar Jersey Girl
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 39,051
As a parent of course I'd want to know. However, I don't think they have any right to tell a student's business like that. I think they deserve the same right to privacy when it comes to pregnancy.

Laws like this will only cause more teen girls to hide their pregnancy not only from their parents but from people who would have been in a position to actually help them.

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June 30th, 2008, 12:22 PM
Tiffers's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 5,197
That's a tough one. On one hand as a parent, I'd want to know if a teacher/counseler suspected my daughter was pg. On the other hand, if she weren't comfortable coming to me, I'd be glad she found another responsible adult to confide in.
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July 1st, 2008, 06:34 PM
Chunky Monkey's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Sylvania Township, Ohio
Posts: 22,176
I don't agree with it because teen girls are not going to feel they can trust anybody and in turn not get the proper prenantal care for herself and baby putting them both at risk.

Also, if the medical community has to have privacy laws then what makes school administrators so special that they can just go blab information a student possibly tells them in confidence?
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July 1st, 2008, 07:22 PM
Mud235's Avatar Super Mom Extrodinaire
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,331
That's why I'm surprised that this is legal. Aren't teens under 18 still able to have privacy about their healthcare if they request it?[/b]
Maybe it depends on the state. Or if the students sign a blank release of information form in the beginning of the year.
(formerly HPGeek)
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July 2nd, 2008, 09:46 PM
Caitlin's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Camp Lejeune, NC
Posts: 8,880
I don't think this is smart. Eventually the teens will catch on and stop confiding in school officals period. Coming from a teen mom here, If I had gotten pregnant while still in high school, it would have been a big relief to be able to talk to someone I trust to make good decisions and not have to involve my parents just yet.

ETA: Also, if it was me.. and a teacher at school suspected my daughter of a pregnancy before I did, something is wrong. I'd hope that I would pay enough attention to my daughter to know there was something up. My mom knew I was pregnant before I even did, because she noticed my symptoms.
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July 5th, 2008, 09:43 AM
TheOtherMichelle's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 8,765
Thinking about this again, the one thing that I really don't like is that the teacher can notify parents if they even suspect it. What would they base that on? What if a girl had a steady boyfriend and then was feeling sick one morning? Would the teacher assume it was morning sickness and inform her parents?

Years ago when I was in college I had lab results faxed to my house (I routinely had labwork for health problems and my parents always knew about it and often went to appointments with me). Well, this one time they ordered a slightly different method of testing and the results printed up with the normal values during each trimester of pregnancy. My parents happened to be home when the results came in and freaked out. I was in college and it wasn't like I was in trouble, but the fact that they had that reaction did hurt me. Instead of questioning me about it, it was almost like an interrogation. And it was all based on nothing.

Knowing how volatile many teens are, I think it would be dangerous for a teacher to create a situation like that within a family. Depending upon how the parents react could affect how likely the teen would be to confide in them later. The parents might think where there is smoke there is fire and impose more restrictions. It just seems like the amount of freedom this gives teachers will create more problems than it helps.

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