Junkfood Science: “National Security Agency of the Nanny State”

October 06, 2007

“National Security Agency of the Nanny State”

When a parent learned what his child’s pediatrician had done during a check-up in order to comply with preventive health guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, this scathing Op-Ed in the Boston Herald resulted. He found that children are being used to spy and report on their parents' behavior. It’s an eye-opening read.

Doc, what’s up with snooping?

They’re watching you right now. They counted every beer you drank during last night’s Red Sox game. They see you sneaking out to the garage for a smoke. They know if you’ve got a gun, and where you keep it. They’re your kids, and they’re the National Security Agency of the Nanny State.

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....

All these questions were asked in private, without my wife’s knowledge or consent.... We’re not alone, either. 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. And that information doesn’t stay with the doctor, either....

It’s not just the AAP’s Preventive Care Guidelines behind these interrogations. Check out the similar performance measures that insurance companies (private and those managing Medicaid) have issued to pediatricians as part of the preventive health guidelines they must follow for reimbursement. Member parents are also issued their own obligations to provide a protecting environment for their kids and be good role models, but how the insurers plan to enforce these among the parents isn’t disclosed.

Take Blue Cross Blue Shields across the country, from Montana to New Mexico, for instance. Parents are given special instructions to set good examples for their children and wear their seatbelts; use sunscreen; discuss alcohol, tobacco and drug use; and foster an environment of open communication.

Doctors are to document counseling and guidance for: seat belt use; bike safety; violence in the home; smoke detectors; protection from UV rays; diet and exercise; storage of guns, toxic substances, firearms and matches; dental care; and second hand smoke.

And you thought I was kidding about doctors becoming lifestyle police?

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