In an effort to perform a “psychological autopsy” to learn more about what went wrong, authorities in Utah are seeking to gather highly sensitive and private data from schools about children in the state who have committed suicide. To get it, health officials want an agreement with education officials.
Better understanding child suicide may sound like a noble effort. But critics of the proposal, as written, have a big problem with it: Right now, there is no requirement for parental consent prior to the release of records. It is part of a troubling nationwide pattern of government increasingly sidelining parents and trampling on parental rights, according to critics.
The measure, which first came before the Law and Licensing Committee of the Utah Board of Education on January 4, would create a data-sharing agreement between the education board and the Utah Department of Health. Under the deal, the Office of the Medical Examiner would be allowed to access all educational records for all children who have committed suicide, including personally identifiable information.
The purposes listed include: “to understand the social, psychological, and educational circumstances of individuals aged 10-18 who died by suicide in order to improve and develop better suicide prevention initiatives,” and “to conduct death investigations in order to reveal evidence that will aid in determining cause and manner of death.” There will also be a “multi-agency research study” aimed at improving suicide prevention.
That is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. In fact, as this writer and Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld documented in the book Crimes of the Educators, there appears to be a strong correlation between the “education” provided in government schools — including what is known as “death education,” as well as teaching children they came from slime — and the explosion in suicide among American youngsters.
Data on children who killed themselves provided by schools may, then, allow officials to further explore and investigate any potential link between what children are learning and their eventual decision to commit suicide. And that would be worthwhile, to put it mildly.
But there are still major concerns with the proposed data-sharing agreement expressed by state school board members. In particular, some members of the board and countless parents say that parental rights and consent must be protected prior to approving the agreement.
“If approved this agreement would allow the Utah Board of Education to share a child’s personally identifiable information via educational records without parental consent,” explained Utah Board of Education member Michelle Boulter, a homeschool mom and an outspoken advocate of parental rights and local control of education.
“You, the parent, will not even be aware that this is happening,” she explained to Freedom Project Media. “You will not be notified or able to ‘opt out.’” She tried to get parental consent added in, but so far, the proposal does not include that important provision.
But she is not opposed to the general idea. “To be clear, I am not against the gathering of this information,” Boulter said, echoing comments she made recently on the popular Kate Dalley show. “I think this study could be beneficial; however, this MUST be done with parental consent.”
And unfortunately, the problem goes way beyond this proposed data-sharing agreement. “I fear that we are quickly becoming a society so focused on prevention programs that we are willing to railroad over parental rights and the rights of the individual,” she warned.
As Boulter and others have eloquently explained, the escalating attacks on parental rights are extremely serious, and extremely dangerous. Parents, not government, must have the right to make decisions for their children, including decisions related to the massive amounts of data now being compiled on their children by government.
However, in this case, that is an easy fix. And by simply adding in a provision protecting parental consent, this agreement could end up revealing incredibly important information — including a possible link between the increasingly outrageous “educational” content being forced on youngsters and the growing epidemic of child suicide across the Western world.