Does a Teen Have a Right to Privacy about Medical Issues?

Posted on Nov 9, 2012 by 2 Comments
Does a Teen Have a Right to Privacy about Medical Issues?

While in theory I believe that older teens have a right to privacy about their medical stuff and what they tell their doctor, in practice I think it is a lousy idea.

If my teenager wants birth control, I want to know about it. If they think they have an STD, I want to know about it. If they feel like they are getting the flu – by golly I want to know about it!

I realize that in some families, open communication is non-existent. In our family we have the other extreme, sometimes my husband (my kids’ much cherished, not-very-wicked-at-all stepdad) probably wishes that the communication wasn’t so open about certain subjects!

The thing is, teenagers still live at home because they are not mature enough to live away from home, support themselves, and consistently make wise decisions. There are a lot of adults in the same boat but that’s another story for another post.

At this point, the laws about a teen’s right to privacy are vague and, to some extent, they are interpreted differently by different physicians and courts.

It is generally accepted that a teenager can get birth control, have an abortion, or get treatment for an STD without the parents ever knowing about it. At the same time, most doctors would not give antibiotics for strep throat to a teen without informing the parent and getting consent.

I understand the reasoning, but I am not sure that I agree with it. If a 14 year old is old enough to decide to get an abortion, then I would think she is old enough to take an antibiotic properly.

What if it was your 14 year old? Thoughts?

photo credit: The Italian Voice

Posted in: Parenting
Marye Audet

Marye Audet is an author, freelance writer, and editor. As a work at home mom she has a unique perspective that encompasses the overwhelming deadlines and commitments of the professional woman as well as the constantly changing needs of a homeschooling mom with a large family. She is the author of one cook book and the creator of Restless Chipotle Media, a network consisting of two food based blogs, a blog for “women of a certain age”, a video site on Youtube, and upcoming blog on kitchen decor, and downloadable eBooks. Marye also is a freelance writer, editor, and book reviewer.

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  • Kim

    I think the problem is the open to inerpretation thing. I dont think they should be getting any drugs without the consent of the adult that would be held responsible. If your teen decides to OD on prescription drugs your held accountable for negligence first and foremost. However, I would not think it necessary to be aware of every little thing they see a doctor for. If my teen needs a doctor to tell them they have a cold and just need dayquil its a lesson learned on their own, and next time they may just ask mom or dad first. Eventually they have to learn to decide what is and isnt worth it to see a doctor vs dealing with it on their own. When they move out is a terrible time to start to learn.

  • Robin

    I think if they are self-supportive, they absolutely deserve privacy. If they expect me, as their parent, to foot the bill than I have a right to know what is going on.