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Opinion & Essays - Oct, 2000 Issue #74 

By Kristie Vollar

[Kristie is the daughter of Woodbury Reports publisher, Lon Woodbury and his wife Denise. Her presence at Woodbury Reports is a demonstration of the positive relationship that has evolved since she has returned from the special purpose programs she attended in 1993-1994.]

I had planned to write an alumnus visit report on the recent visit my dad and I had to Mission Mountain School. But my dad wrote a visit report that I believe gives an adequate description of the program, so instead, I decided to write about the importance of confidentiality in a program.

I feel a large component in a program is the level of confidentiality. Confidentiality is important not only to the parents but to the students as well. Without it, anyone could have easy access to a student’s history and the problems the family may be experiencing. The students would have a hard time sharing things about themselves and parents might feel embarrassed, more than they may already, if it was general knowledge that they needed help getting their child back on track. Some might even loose their jobs because they interrupt their jobs to work on “fixing” their family, instead of risking the chance that others find out they are seeking outside help.

An important aspect of confidentiality is ensuring that a child remains safe without his old peer groups finding him. Sometimes, a child is so involved with a “negative” peer group that he makes poor decisions, and needs to be removed from this setting. Unless his location is kept confidential, the child could be “rescued” by these people if they ever found out where he was. To keep the old “friends” from finding the child, schools/programs work solely with the parents and their educational consultant, if they have hired one. This protects the child so that only those who have the right to know his location have access to that information.

In order for a program to succeed in helping to building self- confidence, a level of confidentiality must be maintained. When there are no interruptions, the child learns to feel safe so that he can share what is going on with him and no strangers will “attack” him for what he has done. Sometimes, people think that if a child needs to go to a school or program, there is something wrong with that child. The fact is that these children are normal, but are struggling in their efforts of make good decisions. Part of the reason for confidentiality is to ensure that the child can get back on track and build the self-confidence they need to make the right decisions, without having to worry about being teased or rejected.

Here’s another thought. Imagine if a newspaper was able to interview a child who was very manipulative. What would that child tell the newspaper? And what effects would that have on the program, the family, or the child’s life in the future? It’s hard to say, but many good reputations are damaged because of lack of confidentiality, not only within a program, but also within a family. Confidentiality helps secure reputations of everyone involved, whether it is the program’s, the family’s, or the child’s reputation.

Safety, reputation, and self-confidence are all important factors in a program, and without confidentiality, it would be hard to maintain any of these factors. Confidentiality is not about keeping secrets from parents about the progress their child has made. Nor is it about keeping secrets about what the child has done to land him in the program in the first place. It is about protecting the family and the child from outside elements that may harm the stability or the progress of the child and it’s about protecting the family from whatever they are afraid of “if anyone ever found out.”

Copyright © 2000, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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