Family doctors gather a lot of data about you and your family. They ask many personal questions about everything from what kind of food you typically eat to how often you go to the bathroom.
A doctor-patient relationship is a private one that requires a certain level of trust on the part of the patient, as your doctor can often end up finding out things about you that you’d hardly tell anyone else.
The reason we have this trust in doctors with such sensitive, personal information (and the reason we let them see us in those paper gowns when we wouldn’t be caught dead in them anywhere else) is because it can help them to diagnose and treat us, as well as monitor our overall health.
So you can imagine one mother’s shock to discover her 11-year-old son had been handed a list of exhaustive questions about incredibly personal topics. Rather than asking about his consumption of fruits and vegetables or activity level, they were about drugs, sex, personal thoughts, and whether or not his parents owned firearms.
This mother, who we agreed not to name, reached out to us as she was rightfully angry that not only would her trusted family doctor, who is a Christian, ask such explicit and personal questions of such a young boy, but that he’d request her son answer them alone.
“This is the thinking that the government is the parent,” she wrote to us, “That an 11-year-old would be operating alone in his or her own world, deciding their own sexual activity, picking sexual partners, having emotional problems where there is no one able to recognize or intervene trouble in this child’s life.”
While she thought she could trust her doctor, she suspects there is something larger behind these probing questions.
“And sadly, this is a Pediatrician who is a part of a CHRISTIAN medical care system,” she explains. “I’m guessing some other agency is requiring the use of this form. I’m guessing they are pressured to make sure the child fills it out alone so they can divulge their many secret problems to someone who REALLY cares, the government.”
She says that while her son is still a child, she’d like to keep things this way, and that these questions pose a very real risk of planting seeds in his mind that never would have been there in the first place.
“Honestly, I want my son’s world to revolve around complaining about chores, pestering his sister, playing with nerf guns and legos as usual,” she explains.
“I don’t need anyone introducing sexual themes, drug themes etc. into his world. We do talk about these things, but I pick when and where. And, I pick the language. To discuss it in such a formal environment puts this information out of context and could prompt more questions in his mind…’is there something wrong with me that I HAVEN’T had sex?'”
She brings up a very good point. With such explicit questions asked of such a young child, without a parent present to guide him through them, who is to say he won’t think that these questions should apply to him? Who’s to say he won’t offer up anything he can because he thinks he is supposed to say something?
These questions address very serious topics that a parent has a right to introduce to a child and guide him through.
Doctors are great for many things. Guiding you through scary childhood illnesses, easing your concerns about troubling rashes, patching your child up after their first big spill on a bike.
But they are not the parents, and the government should not be using them as a conduit to corrupt or data mine our children.
If there is anywhere in the world our children still deserve privacy, it is the doctor’s office!