Reason No. 3,542 the Brits are bonkers
The British have launched a database, at a cost of 343 million American dollars, that will list all 11 million children in the country. And each child's date of birth, address and parents' names. Not to mention the names of doctors and schools.
The launch came even though auditors warned the government two years ago that the database, which 390,000 people will be able to access, could never be totally secure.
Cradle to grave tracking, anyone?
The system was proposed after the death of an 8-year-old in a case where agencies ranging from police to hospitals to social services missed dozens of signs of trouble.
I worked on coverage of a not unsimilar case as a newspaper editor. Tragic and disgusting don't even begin to describe it. I was pregnant at the time and would go home and cry after hours spent shifting through page after page of reports of missed opportunities, of grotesque abuse.
But tracking every child in the United States would not have prevented that death. Tracking that particular child would have - her mother was a convicted druggie who later died of an overdose, so the child had been on social services' radar for years. Or should have been.
It seems a shame to spend hundreds of millions on a database full of potential invasions of privacy when the money could instead go to training people to better enforce existing laws, beefing up laws where we need to and making sure there are enough social workers to do the job properly.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.