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Seasoned with Sage
Confidentiality and Youth

I recently watched Fox News for the first time. I was disgusted by how biased and uninformed their reporting was. Here's the scenario, it painted all nurses in a bad light.

A 14-year-old girl rings up an abortion clinic and says she wants an abortion. She lets slip that her partner is 30 years old. The girl asks the nurse, "Will you tell my parents?" The nurse on the phone only has a few seconds to help this girl. She says they won't if she doesn't want them to.

The girl then admits it wasn't a real scenario, and happily joins the news crew in bashing nurses who deal with sexual health.

I was outraged. I'm a male nurse who works in a boarding school and deals with sexual health issues all the time. Here's what really happens.

A girl, (say 15 years old) is worried she may be pregnant. The first thing she asks me: "Will you tell my parents?"

If I say I will tell her parents, she may not tell me what is wrong. In fact, I've had one student who assumed we would tell her parents, and she climbed out of a forth-floor window in the middle of the night and scaled down each floor using the balconies on each level. She was accompanied by three friends. If any of those friends had fallen, they would have been killed. They took themselves to a local hospital where it turns out she wasn't pregnant.

What's the point? People, students, kids, adults need to feel they have someone to turn to, someone safe, somewhere safe. They need to know that what they tell us is confidential. Your first concern is the immediate safety and health of the child.

What do I do when someone comes to me for help? I did have a patient who was 15 years old and pregnant. I told her I wouldn't tell her parents. I did tell her I would talk to my colleagues and the school doctor.This encouraged her to tell me the whole story. After evaluating her situation, including family, boyfriend, etc., and discussing with my even more experienced colleagues I encouraged her to tell her parents.

Which she did, and they were supportive. The girl was so relieved--as well as surprised. Children are often surprised by how supportive parents can be when in true crisis. The parents came and dealt with the issue.

Back to Fox News scenario: they jumped on the anti-abortion band-wagon and highlighted how medical people keep parents ignorant.They inflamed the public. This issue isn't about abortion. This issue isn't about the parents (at first). It's about the immediate safety of the child.

Hopefully, family can and will become involved, although unfortunately not all kids have good parents they can turn to. By providing a safe environment for the child she can be encouraged to deal with the fact her boyfriend is 30 years old. Hopefully, the guy can be thrown in jail for the rest of his natural life. (I'm a parent as well, I'm not a emotionally immune healthcare giver).

Fox news didn't show what really goes on. They didn't show the thoughts behind the medical people dealing with these ethical issues.They showed a nurse in a bad light, trying to make a political point. We all know news is never unbiased.

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