Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged think of the children

A D.C-based law firm will file suit and pursue “all legal remedies” to protect the rights of the Maryland parents whose two young children were taken into custody for more than five hours Sunday after someone reported them as they made their way home unsupervised from a Silver Spring park, the firm said Tuesday.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were “rightfully outraged by the irresponsible actions” of Maryland Child Protective Services and Montgomery County police, said attorney Matthew Dowd, of the firm Wiley Rein, in a written statement.

“We must ask ourselves how we reached the point where a parent’s biggest fear is that government officials will literally seize our children off the streets as they walk in our neighborhoods,” he said.

Whatever happened to the police checking it out and when things are normal letting them go? Also, the man calling to report them is a stranger, why would the kids talk to this guy?

The statement alleged that the pair were detained in a police car for almost three hours, kept from their parents for over six hours without access to food, and “not returned to the parents until almost midnight on the night before school.”

In an interview with The Washington Post, Danielle Meitiv said that her son told her the children were misled into believing police would take them home. Police had all the Meitivs’ contact information and did not call the parents, or allow the children to call their parents, the statement alleges.

The parents even have the kids wear badges that say they aren’t lost and they are allowed to walk around their neighborhood, so why is everyone overreacting?

CPS officials would not answer direct questions Monday, but issued a statement saying that “protecting children is the agency’s number one priority. We are required to follow up on all calls to Child Protective Services and will continue to work in the best interest of all children.”

The Sunday episode followed an earlier incident when the Meitiv children were picked up by police as they walked home from a different Silver Spring park, about a mile from their home. In both instances, callers reported the children to police.

How about minding your own business? The world isn’t as dangerous as the media hypes it up to be. It never has been. Letting children explore their world makes them smarter and more responsible. Sheltering them their whole lives and then sending them out into the world at 18 results in confused young people who don’t know how the world works.

The Meitivs are believers in a “free range” style of parenting, which holds that children learn to be self-reliant by progressively testing limits and being allowed to roam the world without hovering adults.

This used to just be called good parenting.

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In the latest “think of the children” idea to come out of the United Kingdom, a new bill proposes that nursery school staff and registered childminders must report toddlers they think are at risk of becoming terrorists.

The directive is contained in a 39-page consultation document issued by the Home Office in a bid to bolster its Prevent anti-terrorism plan.

Critics said the idea was “unworkable” and “heavy-handed”, and accused the Government of treating teachers and carers as “spies”.

The document accompanies the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, currently before parliament. It identifies nurseries and early years childcare providers, along with schools and universities, as having a duty “to prevent people being drawn into terrorism”.

The consultation paper adds: “Senior management and governors should make sure that staff have training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimise terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups.

David Davis, the Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary, said: “It is hard to see how this can be implemented. It is unworkable. I have to say I cannot understand what they [nursery staff] are expected to do.

“Are they supposed to report some toddler who comes in praising a preacher deemed to be extreme? I don’t think so.

“It is heavy-handed.”

Headteachers’ union NAHT, said it was “uneasy” with the new guidance. General secretary Russell Hobby, said: “It’s really important that nurseries are able to establish a strong relationship of trust with families, as they are often the first experience the families will have of the education system.

“Any suspicions that they are evaluating families for ideology could be quite counterproductive.

“Nursery settings should focus on the foundations of literacy and socialising with other children – those are the real ‘protections’.”

Schools and nurseries, he said, should not be required to act as a police service.

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Professor Laura Pinto, a digital technology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, says that there might be something more to that elf sitting on your child’s shelf each night.

In her paper, Who’s the Boss, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Laura Pinto argues Santa’s spying little helper “sets up children for dangerous, uncritical acceptance of power structures.”

Based on a modern-day Christmas fairy tale, the Elf on the Shelf takes up residence in children’s homes for the month of December. Each night, it flies back to the North Pole to update Santa, a.k.a. “the boss,” on the kids’ activities, both “naughty” and “nice.”

“You’re teaching (kids) a bigger lesson, which is that it’s OK for other people to spy on you and you’re not entitled to privacy,” she told the Star. And while it might be done in the spirit of fun, she said the messaging could be problematic down the road. She likened the relationship between elf, “an external form of non-familial surveillance,” and children to state and citizen.

“If you grow up thinking it’s cool for the elves to watch me and report back to Santa, well, then it’s cool for the NSA to watch me and report back to the government.”

Pinto isn’t the only one who’s worried about the elf.

Emma Waverman, a blogger with Today’s Parent, is also unimpressed with the elf.

“It’s a little creepy, this idea that this elf is watching you all the time,” she said. But her main beef is the use of a threat — not getting presents — to produce good behaviour.

“It makes the motivation to behave something that’s external,” she said. “If I’m not around or if the elf is not around, do they act crazy?”

Psychotherapist and parenting expert Alyson Schafer took a similar position; the Elf on the Shelf is an extension of the “naughty or nice list,” she said.

“Someone’s commercializing on confused parents who will just do anything that feels good if they think they can get their kid to act better.”

While some people don’t think the elf is that big of a deal and is just a nice Christmas gift, combining the elf with other surveillance tools children also encounter, such as tracking at school, it’s another small piece that conditions children to not question authority and forces them to live with the possibility of being in trouble when not conforming to what authority figures say is correct behavior.

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When Amy Barnes rode her bike to the store to buy some butter, she never thought she’d end up in jail.

In the police dash cam video, Barnes is heard hurling an expletive as she peddles by while they question a suspect.

“(Expletive deleted) the police.”

Barnes, who was unavailable, admitted to FOX 5 News in October of 2012 of her actions.

“And I said (expletive deleted) the police and raised the middle finger and passed by.”

On camera an officer reacted to the profanity: “That ain’t happening.”

Police followed Barnes, arrested her and charged her with disorderly conduct then took her to jail.

Cynthia Counts her attorney says police were heavy handed on Barnes.

“She could have been given a citation, but was arrested, put in solitary confinement, for part of it, she was in jail more than 24 hours.”

Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

The judge dismissed the charge despite claims by police Barnes’ profanity offended others as heard on the police video:

“You see the little kids standing on the corner you think they care to hear your language.”

Barnes and Counts sued the county claiming violation of free speech. Cobb County settled for one hundred thousand dollars.

It doesn’t matter who is offended by the speech. Just because a person doesn’t like what you say, doesn’t mean you can’t say it.

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A Mobile mother is not happy about a controversial Mobile County School contract her daughter signed without her consent. The contract promises that her daughter will not kill or injure herself and others.

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