Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Good morning from Sydney Tue Sep 27

For my first post of today I pose the question, "has political correctness gone mad?"

First of all, let me say that in my business I have to be aware of the potential risk of causing offence to individuals or demographic groups. In many cases such caution is warranted and policies that may at first seem ridiculous, make sense when looked at with an open mind.

For example, I know that many people find it ludicrous that in some schools, parents are required to have the written permission of their child to receive their report card or progress reports. Even at school in the 60s I always thought that report cards were an invasion of privacy, so to me such a policy is logical and correct.

If I am an older child, I am as entitled to my privacy as anyone else. School reports are no different to medical records. Once the child turns 14, it is illegal for any medical practitioner to disclose or discuss a child's medical details with a parent or guardian, without the child's permission. Fortunately we are a country that respects the rights of young adults more than many other countries.

However, a hospital in Britain has banned visitors from "cooing" over new born babies. I accept that it is right that patients are being warned to respect patient confidentiality by not talking to staff or parents about babies.

The issue I have a problem with is a card saying, "I am small and precious so treat me with privacy and respect. My parents ask you to treat my personal space with consideration. I deserve to be left undisturbed and protected against unwanted public view."

For one thing it is rather contradictory. The hospital is going to great lengths to protect a child's privacy, yet they have no problem attributing statements to the child - without their permission!

Debbie Lawson, the neo-natal manager at the special care baby unit, said: "Cooing should be a thing of the past because these are little people with the same rights as you or me."

In that case Ms. (she just has to be a "Ms.") I suggest you stop being hypocritical and start respecting the rights of new born children by not enlisting them to push your own agenda without their permission. Furthermore, just to make sure you fully cover yourself - get the child to put it in writing!

Wherever you may be - be safe!

Photo: I took this photo of a cockatoo during my Sunday morning walk.