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Turner: Privacy Rules Leave Parents Stranded

Media Statement
For immediate release
Monday, 14 February 2005

Turner: Privacy rules leave parents stranded

Something's wrong when a society that holds parents accountable for neglecting their children puts massive obstacles in the guise of privacy concerns in the way of parents who want to do their best for their children, United Future deputy leader Judy Turner said today.

"Parents need to be given the tools to parent and over-zealous child-focused privacy concerns are getting in the way of that," she said, raising concerns about the case of an Auckland mother denied information on the whereabouts of her 15-year-old ill runaway daughter.

"While we have Privacy Commissioner Maria Shroff saying safety concerns will trump privacy issues, the reality all too often is that that is not the case.

"We need to look seriously as a society at how we equip parents to do the job that we rightfully demand of them - that is, caring for their children.

"The ability to care for a child should outweigh any perceived privacy right of a child in all but exceptional circumstances," she said.

"If we are to strengthen families, then we give them the tools to do the job."

Mrs Turner said similar issues also surrounded the families getting information on mentally ill relatives.

"Privacy restraints are often cited in keeping family members in the dark.

"And yet when the patient has recovered to a more rational state, the family are considered primary caregivers. One moment they are excluded from vital information, the next they are essential support people."


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