A new Howard County, MD school policy threatens teens’ right to privacy now that school employees are required to inform parents if a student tells them that she is pregnant. The county Board of Education voted the policy into effect 7-1, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The lone vote against the policy was a student representative who told the Baltimore Sun, “I polled dozens of students. It was unanimous. The students didn’t want this policy, and they didn’t think it was fair to them.”
Not only does the Howard County pregnancy notification policy (PDF)threaten students’ privacy because the information is shared with parents, but the policy also states that “information shared in confidence by students to staff will be divulged to principals, to others who by their training or licensure are able to provide immediate appropriate assistance.” Therefore students’ personal information is shared with several members of the school administration as well.
The director of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at John’s Hopkins University Dr. Tina L. Cheng told the Washington Post that research has shown that teens will stop using sexual health care services if they know their parents will be notified. Howard County Health officer Peter Beilenson said, “There’s no question this will have a chilling effect on kids coming forward. It’s going to slow down health care.”