Friday, September 16, 2005

Big Brother is Wearing Wooden Shoes

Recently read an article in "Wired News" that really gave me pause.

Starting 1/1/07, the Dutch government is going to begin creating an electronic file for every child born in that country. Each newborn will be assigned a "Citizens Service Number" to make it easier to keep track of him in later life. Every detail of information on the child--family history, health, school and criminal records--will be added as the kid grows up. Also, agencies coming into contact with the child will be allowed to place red flags on his/her record to warn of potential problems.

Imagine: Little Johnny starts kindergarten where he wets his pants when he gets nervous. Into the file goes the information. Little Johnny gets into fights with other kids in the third grade. Into the file goes this data along with the information that Johnny has dyslexia. By the time Johnny is in junior high and skipping class, the school makes the decision to red flag his file. That red flag will follow Johnny for life.

As a psychiatric social worker, I was always concerned about labeling children with diagnoses that I knew would haunt them later. I tried to address behavioral problems without burdening the children with unnecessary labels. Man, was I playing in the junior leagues. I didn't have a clue what real labeling was.

My concern about the U.S. government's willingness to "overlook" citizen's rights as they track terrorists is Mickey Mouse compared to this initiative. Big Brother is lurking just around the corner.

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