Document:California Press Release 14 June 2000 Libertarians Attack State Plan to Interrogate Five Year Olds

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14547 Titus Street, Suite 214
Panorama City, CA 91402
For immediate release: June 14, 2000
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 782-8400

Libertarians attack state plan to interrogate five year olds

SACRAMENTO -- Calling it a "disturbing invasion of family privacy," the Libertarian Party of California today attacked a bill in the state Legislature that would require children as young as five years old to be asked intrusive, personal questions such as whether or not their parents spank them, keep guns in the house, or watch violent television shows.

The bill, AB 2068 by Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), passed the Assembly by one vote on May 25 and is pending before the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.

"This has to be one of the most frightening bills I have ever seen introduced in the California Legislature," stated Libertarian state chair Mark Hinkle.

"Forcing children to report 'suspicious' activity of their parents or neighbors is a strategy right out of the totalitarian playbook, not something that should even be considered in a free and civil society."

AB 2068 adopts recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in a January 1999 Policy Statement entitled "The Role of the Pediatrician in Youth Violence Prevention and Clinical Practice and at the Community Level." In that paper, the AAP advises pediatricians to screen children for risk factors indicating violence, such as:

  • Whether the parents or family members have substance abuse problems
  • Whether the parents are employed
  • Whether any family members are involved in gangs
  • Whether the parents spank their children
  • Whether the parents watch violent television programs or keep guns in the home

Under Steinberg's bill, the AAP guidelines would be used by the Child Health and Disability Prevention program, which is administered by county governments for poor families under the supervision of the state Department of Health Services. Nearly 2 million children are expected to be screened under this program next year.

"None of these questions is the government's business. Children should never be put into the position of 'telling' on their parents -- especially poor children who may have no other alternative for health screening than unpleasant, oppressive government programs," Hinkle said.

"The Senate must kill this bill," concluded Hinkle, "and strike a blow for every family's right to privacy. Let's interrogate violent criminals, not innocent impoverished children."