A homework assignment sparked a storm of social media controversy after a concerned parent posted it on Facebook. Students at a Mapleton Junior High School in Utah County were asked to take inventory of the things inside their family medicine cabinet and then turn that list into their health teacher.
A parent, Onika Nugent, was not pleased with the assignment, so she posted the assignment on Facebook and sent a note to the teacher and the principal.
What would you do if your child came home with this homework assignment?That is what Onika Nugent was trying to figure out after seeing this homework assignment from her 8th grade son, given in a health class at Mapleton Jr. High in Utah.
Sure, the dangers of prescription drugs, and especially over-the-counter, which make one drop their guard, are vastly under-reported. FDA-approved drugs kill a conservative estimate of 100,000 Americans each year. In 2009, the deaths from prescription drugs actually surpassed traffic deaths.
When all else fails, it is a personal decision to seek a prescription or OTC for help. But is that not a decision one makes with one's own conscience and in the confidence of a personal health care practitioner? Should that doorway include the school system?
Chances are, it would be mortifying to think of someone going through your medicine cabinet… Obviously, it is incredibly personal! Because the presence of them indicates all your personal health problems and even your habits – rash cream, eczema cream, Imodium for diarrhea, Gas-X, stool softeners…this could go on forever. Pain is a personal problem too.Hundreds of comments from parents are pouring in over the post, eliciting similar responses about privacy concerns. One imagines a teacher giggling over daddy's Viagra. Another brings up HIPAA violations. Another notices that there is no signature line, implicating that students are to complete the inventory with or without the parent present.It's hardly fair for a system that remains intertwined with the healthcare system to ask people to report their personal home items. And it's hardly fair to place the burden of prescription abuse onto the shoulders of a 13- or 14-year-old, making him responsible for preventing it and throwing unused items out – items that the parents bought, as I don't know many school-age teens who do all the shopping, book appointments and drive to the pharmacy. The responsibility for safety was to rest with the FDA we pay big bucks to in order to prevent death – and it wouldn't hurt if they'd pay attention to the chemical dependency Big Pharma causes – I'll give you a moment for a hearty laugh.Here is what Onika ended up writing in response:
Dear Ms. _,
Although it may be a good idea for parents to do an inventory of their
medicine cabinet, I believe it is inappropriate for students to counsel
their parents or report to the school what that inventory is. It is a
complete invasion of privacy. It's like sending a police officer to search a house without a warrant. _ will not be filling out the chart for
Part of the conversation online centered around whether or not the assignment was part of a larger curriculum. Nugent said the school has since responded and said the teacher made the assignment and the form herself and that it wasn’t part of a larger curriculum. Lana Hiskey, a communication specialist for Nebo School District, said they appreciate the parent’s concerns.
“Sometimes we’re blindsided, we don’t know if a teacher is giving something out that they shouldn’t be doing, ” Hiskey said. “And so we absolutely want parents to come forward, let us know…. I wouldn’t be comfortable having my own children go through my medicine cabinet.”
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