Thursday, October 11, 2012

Big Brother for the bad guys

The development of a database for at-risk children is a good idea....I think. When unsure about something I work it out by writing.

Yes, it's state intrusion. However, the state has a legitimate role in protecting children.

But let me give you a hypothetical case of one child who'll be going on that database (as a result of being present at a domestic dispute the Police were called to). We should be relieved that 'other' people involved in her life will be made aware (IF they use the database) of the potential for exposure to further violence.

But at this stage how many 'other' people would be in her life? A doctor? She wasn't born in the city she now resides so may not be enrolled with a GP. A social worker? Probably because the Police have to notify CYF when a child is at an address where a family violence incidence occurs. But there won't be any teachers. She's too young.

Now, it's the first year of life that is riskiest for babies. Will the new database help? It will apparently put up an alert if a 'high-risk' adult moves into the home. But adults don't necessarily use their real addresses. Especially if they are moving into the home of someone on the DPB. For obvious reasons. (In this case even the baby's father, who has past convictions for violence, isn't registered in the database at the same address. His 'official' address is elsewhere to enable the mother to claim the DPB.)

As it stands the family is on notice that another incident will lead to the (at least temporary) removal of the child. But another incident may be one incident too many. The database can't predict if, when or how severe it will be.

My invented scenario happens all over the country.

Invasion of privacy? If people break laws intended to protect others, and abuse welfare, they give up certain rights. Yes, I imagine some people are going to also abuse the database. We've seen that sort of infringement with police and WINZ databases. Some klutz might even email its contents or part thereof to an unintended recipient!

But, on balance, I can support the database. Don't expect it to be the silver bullet though.

No comments: