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State driving a wedge between parents and teens

30 August, 2004

Turner: State driving a wedge between parents and teens

Law that stops parents being informed of traumatic events in their children's lives is the State driving a wedge between parents and children and needs to be changed, United Future's Judy Turner said today.

"This is lowest common denominator thinking where a huge number of very good parents can be put in a position of not being able to support their child through a genuine crisis because we have legislation tailored around a worst-case scenario of inept parental reaction.

"Parents and children deserve and need better than this," Mrs Turner said, after weekend revelations that school and medical professionals deliberately did not inform a14-year-old girl's parents that she had been raped and given a sexually transmitted disease.

"We hold parents hugely accountable under law for the well-being and protection of their children on one hand, but when the child most needs support and help, the State is driving a legal wedge between them.

"It is simply ridiculous that the very people who care for them most are not allowed to be involved in their lives at a most crucial time," she said.

And the whole concept of teens deciding that they don't want their parents told needs to undergo "a huge reality check", Mrs Turner, United Future's family affairs spokeswoman, said.

"It is very normal that a teenage girl who has been raped or perhaps finds herself pregnant to not want mum and dad to find out. There would be huge anxiety there, and they would know that their parents might well be very upset and concerned.

"But for schools, counsellors and medical professionals to 'rubber stamp' these fears; to validate them and not to do their utmost to guide the teen concerned towards their parents and the care that can be found with them, is wrong.

"Of course, there will be situations where this is not suitable for a number of reasons - but you don't legislate for the majority based on these exceptions.

"You know something is dreadfully wrong when a girl with a learning disability is so badly served by a system supposedly set up to protect her best interests. It failed. Her family may well have succeeded, but weren't given the chance."


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