Friday, 29 May 2009

Consent and the Janus-faced government

I've been digging into the consent issue which I see as pivotal in matters that children can understand.

In medical issues children as young as 10.3 years can give assent to a treatment, or disagree with it. So say professionals. Parents believe that their children of around 13.9 are able, and young people themselves think that 14 is the magic age. (From

This is consent to medical treatment. Or refusal to accept medical treatment.

Going to
I notice that the leaflet 'Consent: A Guide for Children and Young People' is available in English, Bengali, Chinese, Greek, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese. The Department of Health thinks it important enough to present it in ten languages.

Ten languages to tell children that they can choose what happens to their bodies and their health.

"While the age of informed consent remains contentious, an attempt should be made fully to explain the procedures and potential outcomes to the child, as stated by the European charter, even if the child is too young to be fully competent. After all it is the child who will have to live with the outcome of the procedure." (From

That is an important statement: "After all it is the child who will have to live with the outcome of the procedure." So true. The child will have to live with possible errors, and the parents will have to pick up the pieces.

Your body, your health is vital. A child's health is something incredibly important. We all want children to be healthy. We all want them to be happy with the decisions they make.

Why, then, is ContactPoint, a list of every child's details, being mooted at all? Where is the consent from every child who has to suffer the consequences if their personal information gets into the wrong hands?

Children are either competent to understand what is going on and give their consent or they aren't. You cannot pick and choose areas where children are allowed to have sway over their bodies or their information. Children's rights - another pretty idea - pretty toothless. Every child has a right to maintain their privacy from a totally unnecessary and potentially dangerous group of database users. Yet young people aren't even consulted. LAs are stockpiling children's personal details and adding them to a database which is abysmally insecure and probably illegal.

I wonder which child will challenge it in court?

"After all it is the child who will have to live with the outcome of the procedure."

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