07 November 2008

Action Needed?

I'm signed up for the school district's "news" emails, mostly so that when school cancellations occur, I'm able to find that information in my inbox that morning. Today I'm just sharing some excerpts from a mass-emailed letter I received today.

The county's health department occasionally inserts items of interest into the letters I receive, which is fine if there are measles or diptheria cases in the county that parents need to look out for, etc. I get a little tired hearing about every little thing that might go wrong and how health this or that is so important... I signed up for this stuff so that I could see *school news* and cancellations, not to be harrangued. Even if I enjoyed getting the "health news" part of the newsletter, I think we're going over the line with wacky statistics WARNING parents to TAKE ACTION to PROTECT YOUR CHILD'S HEALTH NOW in big capital letters... with the following:

Last year, 9 out of 10 children who were seen for the flu at local hospital emergency rooms never had a flu shot. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and the (name of county) Health Department are encouraging entire families to consider a flu shot. Regular Wednesday flu shot clinics began (date), at the (name of county) Public Health Center, (address). (Cost info and hours here.) Vaccine available for 6 months of age and up. No appointment necessary. For more information, call (number). Clinics will run each Wednesday while vaccine supply lasts.

Around these parts, the flu shot is NOT mandated for children and most physicians I've encountered have discouraged them. So having "9 out of 10" children who have flu complications necessitating ER treatment being unvaccinated doesn't really move me into the ACTION the county health department wants. In fact, I'm suspicious that far fewer than one in ten children are vaccinated against the flu locally... so why would one in ten children get that ill if the shots are so effective...? And unless you have a sickly child or an asthmatic, or Grandma is in frail health and lives with you, why would you even consider the flu vaccination? They contain thimerosol, FYI. Just saying, though I'm sure there are plenty of other bad things out there like Satanic Donuts and Evil Pop-Tarts and we do get overworried about vaxes sometimes IMO.

But I think regardless of your feelings on whether vaccinations in general are good for your own child, I think you'd agree that if health departments and physicians want laypeople to vaccinate their children, they're going to have to do two things: Be selective in which vaccines are required/mandated, and be selective in your warnings to parents to take ACTION. Otherwise, people like me get mighty jaded mighty fast, and it's just like the little boy who cried wolf. Someday you're really going to NEED parents to take ACTION against a very real public health threat, and they're going to not heed warnings even if they're written in caps and bold type. Incidentally, that's one of the problems I have with some of the insane number of warnings on everything, so maybe I shouldn't be so harsh with the health department. Can I not drink a cup of water without five paragraphs of single-spaced WARNINGS all down the side? Oh, guess not. I wasn't warned that the water might be wet and I think I'm gonna sue.

Next up, a message from the school district about the campaign I made fun of previously titled "Not in My House." I joked that the party is really at Davey's, not my house ... I think the interesting thing is that the district likes to go by surveys of children "volunarily" disclosing facts about their drug use or home life. Hm. That's really reliable, yup. BTW, I forbade my children from participating in even remotely in these "voluntary" surveys, and I could care less about whether state funding is tied to my children participating. I'm the parent. Bug off. Oh, and I'm putting that last phrase nicely... See why lots of nice Christians don't like to link to my blog? Excerpt:

While driving around town, you may have noticed yard signs that say Not in My House. This is part of a local campaign sponsored by (city name) Alliance for Youth, Inc., a coalition of local volunteers working to reduce alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse, violence, and other negative behaviors and improve the lives of all (City) citizens.

The purpose of the Not in My House campaign is to reinforce that parents and adults should not allow or provide alcohol to minors (Duh, really??). Here are some statistics (Oh, good, because I'll need those to justify why I'm obeying the law to my friends and kids! Thanks!):

Adults in (City) deserve some applause, 98% of them don't allow minors to drink in their homes. These adults know 98 They Can Wait. (Wow. You people must be way more qualified to teach English than I am. Just the comma separating the two full sentences alone convinced me right there.)

More than 40% of youth who start drinking at 15 or younger develop alcoholism.

98% of adults in (City) say to alcohol and minors - Not in My House. (Wow! I wish I could speak without quotation marks like that! And begin sentences with numbers rather than writing out "Ninety-eight" like such a conventionalist! I hope I don't come off as overly critical, but the school is "writing for publication" here. So what if it's just an email? About 10,000 people get it after the "send" button is pushed. I thought the district was supposed to "Empower Excellence" and whatnot. Maybe with some synergy, diversity, and proactive edubabble thrown in. Can ya at least do it with good grammar?)

Alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined (Source? And how many people like to do "all other drugs combined" on a regular basis? They're party animals!!) - keep telling minors - Not in My House.

Okaayyy... I applaud this idea that we shouldn't get kids soused... but do we need yard signs and dopey slogans? Do we need to email parents this rah rah stuff every week? And what kind of statistic is that ... 40% of kids who drink at 15 or younger "develop" alcoholism?? I always thought that alcoholism is something you HAVE whether you ever take a drink or not. Haven't you seen cheesy re-enactments of 12 Step meetings on TV?

If you never drink, I suppose you never learn if you have it... but... it bothers me that an institution that purports to give information to students and parents so that they can make informed decisions would twist facts in that way. I guess we have at least evolved from the frying egg "this is your brain on drugs" silliness. I think a few wikipedia searches on some of these drugs should be enough to scare kids straight before they ever go down the crooked path. And if Mom and Dad let their kids have booze parties and friends over, so what if they're only two percent of the population??? They can invite the other 98% of the kids to the party if they wish. Here's hoping the other 98 percent of children have the sense to "just say no."

Here's also hoping that schools get a clue that there are some children TRAPPED in horrible homes where drug use is the norm. This campaign starts with a faulty premise! It isn't those rebellious teens who are always to blame for parties, overdoses and the whole works. In fact, I know several upstanding children in bad situations. Those kids need some love and prayers and a nice place to visit with friends. I'd like to say that that would be "in my house," but SOMEBODY was naughty and our friends can't come over until early December. I do that "giving kids consequences for their bad attitudes and actions" thing because I'm too old-fashioned. :p


3 comments:

  1. Our county's public school website excitedly announced a way to sign up for informational e-mails this year and I signed up. So far not a single thing has come through on it. I really hope it's not some kind of means of propaganda sharing like yours has proven to be!

    Another reason I do my best to keep my kids out of public school... I would want them to learn ONLY readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmetic.. not all the social baloney that's forced upon them these days! The last thing I want my children ever doing is coming home and telling me I'm evil if I don't recycle, or evil if I enjoy a glass of wine now and then (or every day if I want to!!).

    I hate all those sign campaigns and slogans and stuff. Maybe I'm a wee bit paranoid, but to me it's the first step on a path to getting kids to "report" what their parents are doing. The surveys make me think of that too.

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  2. I think it is a means of reporting parents and others to the state. Not that some parents don't deserve to lose their children and go to prison... just read the news, and figure that if half of it is true, things are pretty bad.

    But I'm concerned about a lot of these mandated-reporting laws. It should be mandated that a name, address and telephone number must be given on every "report" with social services and are a matter of public record. Yes, that means they could say "John Q. Public of Missouri City reported Joe L. Smith for child abuse" could be read aloud on the news. Currently just Joe L. Smith's name might be read, and Mr. Smith would have no way to know how to defend himself against the charge without knowing who reported what and why.

    And no shield laws for these teachers and others who do the reporting. If you're that concerned, and there's that much merit to the report, you have nothing to worry about. The first defense against libel charges is that the reported item is TRUE.

    I can't tell you how many people I know who have been threatened by school "officials" when there are problems in public schools. They know VERY WELL that there is no way to get them back for what they did legally, and they could seriously mess up your life, not to mention your children's.

    Anyway, it's off-topic but since it's my blog, I guess I can grant myself a little freedom. Yay me.

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  3. I have no comment on the Not in my house campaign, because it is beneath contempt.

    Re: flu shots. I have worked for various organisations in which a free flu shot is provided for those who wish to avail themselves of such a wonderful, community minded service. I have always declined. This is partly because I don't see the point of it, and partly because every. single. person. who gets the shot, subsequently gets sick. Coincidence? I think not. Giving it to children? Over my dead body. A child who gets flu (as opposed to the more common cold) should generally not require medical intervention unless s/he has some other condition. Give the kid some paracetemol, put it to bed, and make sure it drinks plenty of water. Just because they present to the hospital, does not mean they actually NEED to be there!! My kid is immunised for all the biggies- mumps, measles, rubella, polio, and meningococcal. Oh, and tetanus. Other than that, she's on her own!

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)