Monday, November 24, 2014

Re-examine the "Privacy" Laws

While we are on the subject of higher education, it is worth rethinking the so-called "privacy" laws that prevent universities, so they say, from alerting parents when students face serious, even life-threatening, problems. 

This past week, to add to other woes, the University of Virginia suffered one more suicide among its undergraduates.  Suicides can be prevented by the proper intervention.  But, privacy laws often leave parents completely uninformed.  Parents learn, often only after the fact, that their child had been thinking about suicide for many months.  The authorities at the schools were aware that the child was suicidal, but were prevented, so they say, from alerting the parents because of "privacy" laws.

If alerting parents could save a child's life even though violating privacy laws, then, by all means, violate the privacy laws.  How is this decision even close?  Parents should be informed when their undergraduate child is in trouble, especially when the trouble is serious enough to threaten the child's life. 

If modern privacy laws are threatening the interests of our undergraduates, then change the laws.  If such laws could lead to the death of a child, then violate the laws and inform the parents that their children are at risk.

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