Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Has mommy had an abortion?

Good intentions or not, there is a scandal growing around a controversial questionnaire that asks the mothers of Russian schoolchildren if they have had abortions. It's entitled "Passport of a Pupil's Health," which the Russan Education and Science Ministry is planning to introduce in 2012. In the meantime, the ministry recently launched an experiment introducing the questionnaire in several schools in the Saratov region, Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reports. The “Health Passport” immediately sparked a storm of controversy.

“I was shocked when I saw the questions,” said one parent, Vadim Krasnov, as quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. “We had to answer whether my wife planned her pregnancy, if she planned to have an abortion, how the labor was… How is this relevant to my son’s schooling and his health?”

The 43-page long document also requested details on the family’s income, details of their living conditions and other personal information. Special sections ask to evaluate the child’s character, including such traits as aggressiveness, tendency to hysterics, and level of conformity, to name just a few.

The Ministry of Education and Science claims the project is meant to encourage kids to develop a responsible attitude towards their health. According to official data, only about ten per cent of graduates can be called absolutely healthy.

“We hope the “Health Passport” is going to become another stimulus for planning proper daily regimen, controlling the workload during PE classes, eating habits of the child and providing him/her with enough physical activity,” explained the Ministry.

Ok, so explain to me again why my child would have to answer certain personal questions that have nothing to do with him or her?

Outraged parents have gained support from a non-government organization “All-Russia Teacher-Parent Meeting”, which says the questionnaire violates basic civil rights and could even pose a serious danger.

"From the legal point of view this experiment is a gross violation of the main rights and freedoms of Russian citizens,” the organization’s statement said.“Chronic diagnoses are family and medical secrets. Who and why, except for parents and doctors, needs information about the child’s health, his/her illnesses and sexual development? Can this information get into the hands of criminals and pedophiles or juvenile justice agencies?”

The Ministry does recognize that there are some flaws and have taken the parent's complaints into account. Let's hope that by 2012 kids won't have to ask these types of questions and parents won't have to answer.

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