Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Invade my Privacy---Please

It's official. The world has gone mad.

My daughter and I finally negotiated a Birthday Celebration plan we both could live with. All that remained was to invite the chosen classmates to the event. My kids' school has a strict rule forbidding the distribution of party invitations on campus. I totally understand and support this rule which tries to spare children the life-scarring trauma of being one of the non-invited ones.

HOWEVER, starting this year, due to concerns for confidentiality, safety, privacy and liability the PTA decided not to publish a student body directory. Also, the office and individual teachers are not to release a student's address or phone number without the parents' written permission.

In other words, one may not distribute invitations on campus and one is also prevented from obtaining the information whereby one might deliver invitations by phone or mail.

Crazy, yes? If it were only a birthday party inconvenience, I'd let it ride. But there are so many small ways this breaks down a school community. How can you call a friend to get homework when you're out sick? How do parents arrange carpools? How do you call three or four other Moms to see if they share your concern about _________that is going on at the school?

And this confidentialy thing is also profoundly affecting how churches care for people who are in the hospital. Back in the old days, (late 1980's) when I was starting out, pastors would swing by the local hospital(s) a few times a week and check the New Admits list to see if there was someone from the church in the hospital that s/he did not know about. One would also discover on that list folks one knew from the community who were not, strictly speaking, church goers but who nevertheless appreciated a pastoral visit in a time of need. Church members who worked at local hospitals would often call the church to alert the staff to late breaking pastoral care crises.

Now, of course, you have to know that a specific person is in a specific hospital and arrive armed with that person's correctly spelled, full name before the volunteer at the front desk will divulge the room number in which that person might be found. And with insurance companies shortening hospital stays ever more drastically, the chance that you will get this info before a person is discharged grows smaller every day. And any member working at a hospital who calls the church and releases this confidential info could lose his or her job.

It's a good thing I'm not a conspiracy theorist, because if I were I would have to conclude that the Powers and Principalities of this world want us all to be as isolated and disconnected from each other as possible so that there will be no possibility of Organized Resistance to anything they want us to do, think or be.

But that would be crazy, wouldn't it?


more cows than people said...

I hear you. Its a little better in a small town, but.... still...

ppb said...

I hate this, too. And I'm really, really tired of filling out Hippa forms.

Quotidian Grace said...

It's so insane. No one can exercise reasoned judgment anymore in a public school. Every rule has to be an absolute because we can't trust anyone to use their discretion. Truly crazy-making.

cheesehead said...

I'm glad my kids went to Hippy Dippy Kum-Ba-Ya schools when we were at that stage. We got directories for the whole district! Some families chose not to have identifying( phone number, address) information printed, but still you had a class list, with parents' names.

Sue said...

It's the same up North. It is really difficult to catch folks while they are in hospital. I'm slowly educating the congregation to PLEASE let the office know if a family member or friend is in hospital - I think they are beginning to understand that I have no access to hospital lists.

Now, if I could get them to understand that I do not have the mind-reading skills to let me know that they have a pastoral need....Don't ya just love it when someone says, "I could have really used a visit a few weeks ago when I was at home feeling sad/sick/lonely/whatever"

Hm hmm.. and I'm supposed to know this how exactly????


Presbyterian Gal said...

At last! My crackpost theory #436 is catching on!!

Of course it's crazy! That's why they're getting away with it.