Back to School Physicals Turn into Parenting Inquisition under New Rules for Abuse Screening

If you’re like me, you’re scrambling to get physicals done before the first week of school. I had the pleasure of having three school physicals done in one afternoon last week. We’ve been seeing the same family doctor for over three years now, but this year’s screening was weird and invasive. In fact, it took well over two and a half hours while I sat there and listened to this man, who has seen us regularly, ask my children uncomfortable questions about sexual abuse, guns in the house, bullying at school and a myriad of other things that, frankly, aren’t any of his business.

Several times he addressed me directly on parenting issues like “are they wearing helmets when they bike ride?” or “have you spoken to them about inappropriate touching?” Well, yes, actually, of course they do and I have spoken to them about abuse regularly, but what that has to do with a school physical is beyond me.

Very little was done to check them for actual physical health. I think he looked in their ears and listened to their hearts, but no reflexes were checked, no neurological exam or eye exam was given. No hearing test was administered. Mostly, it was an inquisition into my parenting skills. What do you feed them? Are they eating enough vegetables and staying away from processed foods? Do they sleep well at night and have regular bedtimes? Do you and your husband fight? Are you safe at home? Is anyone smoking? I kid you not. This was the tone of the interrogation.

When a physician starts asking about guns in the house it gets really weird. We live in the country, where predator control is a regular necessity. Saying “no” to that question might raise more red flags than not. But saying yes opens a whole other can of worms, too. What is the right response to that totally inappropriate question? What does my Constitutional right to bear arms have to do with my child’s physical health? Doctors have the ability to call CPS and have kids taken away by the state, so I felt coerced into answering. I was completely unprepared for the line of questioning I was given and must have looked like a deer in the headlights during most of it. If red-flag laws are enacted, will the state demand medical records that will now contain information on guns in the home? Where is this information being stored? What will it be used for?

Perhaps as bad as asking kids about guns in the home at a physical, doctors are now encouraged to screen more children for abuse (and target them for CPS abduction) backed by nanny-state cheerleaders like Time magazine. In an article titled “Don’t Get Mad if a Doctor Says they Need to Screen Your Child for Abuse,” Dr. Richard Klasco and Dr. Daniel Lindberg claim that the way forward is less thinking and more screening. This, they say, will catch more abused kids and fight racism… of course.

With “think less, screen more,” screening is based on the child’s examination, rather than their parents’ race, ethnicity, or status. Objective, high-risk criteria—such as bruising of the torso, ears or neck—prompt doctors to perform the testing that can identify abuse.

An uncomfortable byproduct of the new paradigm is that some non-abused children will be screened, and some non-abusive parents will be offended. Challenging as these encounters may be, children must be protected and biases must be rectified. The only way to achieve these goals is by implementing policies based on objective criteria.

The problem with this, however, is that if “think less, screen-more” is implemented and more children are scrutinized for abuse, then more parents will be terrorized by CPS, an organization that already does too much damage to innocent families. The Hill reported on this new technique.

Perhaps as shocking as the plan itself is how nonchalant the essay’s authors, Dr. Richard Klasco and Dr. Daniel Lindberg, are about the life-altering consequences of their proposal. In an apparent attempt to downplay the harm that their plan will cause, Klasco and Lindberg wrongly suggest that the worst that will happen if they get their way is “some non-abused children will be screened, and some non-abusive parents will be offended.”

The real worst-case scenario happened to my friends, Rana and Chad Tyson, and it was far from merely an “uncomfortable byproduct.” While changing their infant daughter’s diaper, Rana and Chad noticed that she was not moving one of her legs and would recoil in pain whenever it was touched. Being the good parents they are, the Tysons immediately took her to her regular pediatrician. After being evaluated by the pediatrician, they were instructed to go to a local children’s hospital where the daughter who displayed symptoms and her twin sister were subjected to the same battery of x-rays utilized by the “think less, screen more” approach.

The Tysons ended up having their children kidnapped by the state while the doctors eventually figured out they had a genetic disorder. Meanwhile, the family had to declare bankruptcy in order to pay for the legal fees. Who knows what kind of damage the children suffered being separated from their parents for over five months. This story is repeated over and over throughout the nation. Busy-body doctors, nurses, and other “mandated reporters” overreact, causing needless trauma for families. It’s so bad, that taking a child to the doctor is anxiety-inducing these days. Parents tell me all the time that they hesitate to take their accident-prone children in for fear of something like this happening to them.

What we need is not “less thinking, more screening.” We need parents demanding their rights in the face of institutions bent on taking them away. Doctors have no business judging parenting. They exist to treat sickness and we pay them a great deal to do so. Setting physicians up to be the supervisors of parents is a bad idea. It will only keep parents from seeking treatment when they should.

The constant infringement on our right to be secure in our persons and families continues almost daily and is snaking into every aspect of our lives. Will the American people push back against this? Or will we just go quietly into the night?


Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo.” Follow her on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter