Thursday, January 29, 2009

When families become enemies of state

From Eileen Munro in the Guardian:
"Increased surveillance of families is presented to the public on the back of a child abuse tragedy. Sharing information is clearly valuable in identifying victims of abuse since parents themselves may well tell lies. Sharing more information is offered as a way of increasing children's safety. This, though superficially plausible, over-simplifies the processes of judgment and decision-making. Sharing more relevant information will improve identification, sharing more irrelevant information will harm it, increasing the noise-to-signal ratio so it is harder for a professional to spot the relatively few cases where children are in danger from their parents. The type of information-sharing recommended by the government will vastly increase the amount of data irrelevant to child protection circulating around the system.

Respecting families' privacy does not mean abandoning the early intervention policy; it means abandoning the assumption that practitioners know best and parents can't be trusted to care about their children's welfare. We should assume that parents are innocent until we have at least some grounds for suspicion."

You don't make it easier to find a needle in a haystack by throwing more hay on the stack. Thanks to Terri Dowty for the link.

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