As a Valley parent with four children, two attending public school, I am opposed to placing a Teen Health Center (THC) in our schools.
Last month I read in the Record that some parents in North Bend were opposed to having a THC in the new middle school. I expressed concern to the school board immediately. Now that the other middle schools are being considered instead, I want parents with students at the other schools to be aware.
My greatest concern is that state law forbids school administrators and THC staff to inform parents of services given to children age 13 or older if the child does not want their parents notified. Our children could receive counseling or medical treatment at the THC that their parents would not consent to – and without any notification.
There are other ways students’ needs can be met without infringing on parental rights. Already, parental rights have been limited by the state once our children turn 13. We need to do our best to work with our own children – not have the school facilitate treatment without our knowledge or consent.
When I choose a doctor for my child, I search for what I believe is best for her. If my child needs counseling, I will spend time researching the counselor, what their values and philosophies are, and their approach to treatment before I allow my child to receive treatment. If a THC is present at school and my child decides to utilize it, I can be completely left out.
We are fortunate to have wonderful resources such as Snoqualmie Valley Hospital and Encompass to provide treatment and counseling. It would be wonderful for such organizations to provide care and counseling for those in need, but not at school, during school hours.
Editor’s note: According to Washington law, minors 13 and older may receive counseling services, but not medical services, without their parents’ knowledge.