Transparency for six year olds


Mummy’s Office (not very tidy is it?)

My eldest has suddenly reached the age where he is trying to read my work emails. I’ve so far not had to hide my screen or papers from the kids on account of them being cute but illiterate, and in reality he’s miles from reading or understanding anything of substance – but this weekend I thought it was time to have a chat about why mummy’s work things are private. And as is so often the case with serious chats with the kids – the conversation came back to poop.

He knows I work with families. He knows I try and help families when the mummy and daddy don’t live together any more (whilst blackberry picking the other weekend he instigated a very serious talk about why some mummies and daddies don’t live together and some people have two houses, so I took it as an opportunity to explain to him that I help those mummies and daddies to make a plan to sort things out. I also recently had to explain trials and judges in the course of reading them Alice in Wonderland which helped me introduce how I help when parents can’t agree and someone else has to decide for them). Today I had to explain that some of the things I read about families are very sad and they are having some tough times, and some of it is very private and it’s a bit too grown up for him. He was not at all convinced – obviously for him it was difficult to distinguish between the ability to read the words and the ability to manage the content and he was pleased to be grown up enough (i.e. sufficiently developed in his reading skills) to read it – “No, mummy you’re joking – I can read it!” So, racking my brains for an example of things people might want to keep private – we talked about how it might feel if you had a bit of an accident at school and you don’t want anyone to know about the problem in your pants, because it’s embarrassing. “Ah,” he said – “Now I understand”. I think that’s empathy developing.

The whole privacy / secrecy distinction that causes us so much angst on a macro scale is pretty tough on the micro level too. ‘Cos we aren’t supposed to keep secrets, or encourage shame. But we have to respect people’s privacy and it’s not kind to make them feel embarrassed or upset by telling other people private things. These are tough conversations to have with a six year old.

Anyway, it seems that some practical changes are required to my data handling now that my little ones are growing up. Otherwise I will really be in the doo doo.

18 thoughts on “Transparency for six year olds

  1. Perhaps you should take your own advice. I remember reading on this blog during the row over the Italian woman last year that you got your hands on a copy of the Italian judgement not released to the public. Why was your morbid curiosity more important than the family’s right to privacy?

    • I’m afraid your memory has let you down. I have only ever blogged about documents which have been publicly and lawfully available. Whilst others were publishing an italian judgment and the name of the mother (prior to the court actually permitting that – at the mother’s own request) I did not. I commented on the judgments that had been published and the news reports of them. I specifically did not link to material that appeared to identify the mother until I had seen, on the judiciary website, the order confirming that this was now permissible. It was the mother herself who sought to be able to put the case “out there”. I was simply attempting to correct some of the misunderstandings about the legal position.
      So I’m not really sure what you are on about.

      • You did not publish the Italian judgement you merely stated that you had obtained a copy of it that you wanted to read. I am not talking about the UK judgement. Also I did not realize that the mother and the Italian children named in the judgement gave you permission to violate their privacy.

        The Italian judgement (not the UK judgement) was never released to the public. A good example of your actions would be similar to someone talking about seeing the leaked celeb nude photos and saying it is okay because they did not include the link.

        • Where did I state I had obtained a copy of it? I have read back through all three of my blog posts on the topic and can’t find any reference to the italian judgment. I have never had the italian judgment. I have not violated anyone’s privacy. This is a blog with a small readership and all I have done is re-reported material that is already publicly available and which has been widely (and badly) reported in the mainstream media and on the internet. I have commented upon the accuracy of those reports and the legal position.

          Happy to look at any link you can provide that proves my memory to have failed me but if you don’t have one please stop trolling.


    In the comments to Paul.

    I’ve been sent a comment purporting to set out a translation of some or all of the italian judgment – but I’m not going to publish it as I have no way of knowing if it is complete or accurate. It seems to me that if it says what it is said it does it will come into the public domain at some point but I’m not going to add to the mix by publishing a potentially inaccurate translation – and I have no idea at all of the view the Italian court would take of the publication of one of it’s judgments (although I suspect they wouldn’t much mind I’m neither going to research the point whilst on christmas hols nor take a punt on it).


    So why read it without the Italian court releasing the document? Also I read your statement on court ordered c-sects being rare and unusual which with the public release of family court cases has proven to be not unduly rare nor unusual. Not to say the c-sects were not necessary, however I do believe the CoP should issue more court ordered birth control to avoid such situations from happening.

    • As you can see from the quote I read it because someone attempted to publish it on the blog via a comment – but for the reasons stated it would have been inappropriate to publish it. It if for this reason that I moderate all comments – I read it and deleted it. I don’t understand your position which appears to be that I am wrong for not publishing it and yet have no respect for privacy. Anyway, I stand by my judgment call on the moderation of that comment.

      You may be right that c-section cases are less rare than we thought – we know this now through greater transparency.

      The idea of forced birth control is rather chilling.

      • Why is it chilling to protect people if that is in their best interest?
        The CoP already has the right to make such decisions.
        Two recent cases, the first cases focused on contraception, and the second case has the contraception rolled into the care plan.

        I fail to see why the court should allow harm to come to venerable adults due to lacking capacity. It is far more chilling to think the court would allow such people to make choices that are not in their best interest e.i. court ordered medical procedures including c-sects and birth control.

        • Yes it does have that right. I don’t think however that it is something that should be contemplated except in extremis. And I think that reproductive choice is a fundamental right.

          • It is not a violation of their fundamental rights, just as a DoL, court ordered medical procedures, or adoption. Yes they are not the happiest decisions to be made, but they are not in violation of their rights. It is not a punishment, it is to their benefit.

            Also the president of the family court has made some rather meaningful words to give about contraception in relation to people involved with the family court.

          • You know what. I think I’ve said all I can usefully say on this topic. Thank you for your contribution.

          • Just to clarify imagine it this way. A VA who gets pregnant and loses capacity. The court would have to back an EPO for obvious reasons. Even after the birth it could easily take weeks if not months to rehab the VA. How much longer to teach them proper parenting through courses? Even if they successfully rehab, and complete the course within the 6 month time frame which is doubtful, they would still be in danger of relasping. All the while having to contend with an ongoing court case.

            Why put VAs in such harmful situations. All they would need to do is a risk assessment which could take several days to compile. If there is risk of significant harm, then it should be fine to issue contraception for the VA.

          • The court would not have to back an EPO in respect of every baby born to a mother who loses capacity – although it might do so if there were no alternative.
            Lack of capacity / mental health difficulties and inability to parent are not coterminous.
            Yes, I often wish for the sake of many of my vulnerable parent clients that they had been steered away from pregnancy and helped to access contraception.
            I do not agree with the concept of forced contraception for vulnerable adults. I do agree that incapacitous adults may have to have best interest decisions made for them and that might include contraception or even sterilisation – in some highly unusual circumstances, most probably permanent incapacity both in terms of decision making and parenting, or physical risk to mother, and where there there was an actual risk of pregnancy.
            And now I really don’t think I can add any more.

          • To end the conversation I just want to add that it is not “forced contraception” anymore than it is “forced adoption”. Non consensual yes, forced no. Forced implies that their wishes and rights haven’t been considered. Without such distinctions people start sounding like that forced adoption commentator that always tries to demonize adoption.

            I do thank you for the conversation and believe or not I really am not trying to troll. I am merely trying to understand what comes across as alittle hypocritical. Not to say that you are wrong or I am right just a few questions I wanted to better understand.

  3. I was also wondering about your comment “It was the mother herself who sought to be able to put the case “out there”.”. So if someone you know to be mentally unwell and going through extreme turmoil makes a questionable decision to put out sensitive personal info, you willfully support such decisions? I can see why you do not practice CoP cases very often.

    • She did so some time after when legally represented and adjudged mentally well enough to do so. There is no suggestion she lacked capacity at the time. Why should her views be disregarded because she had been previously unwell?

      • People who have never lacked mental capacity make bad decisions when in stressful situations. You have never had two married friends going through a divorce while making bad decisions due to stress and emotions? Just because some has mental capacity does not mean you have to support their bad decisions.

        • They do make bad decisions. But the law respects people’s right to make bad but capacitous decisions.
          And I return to my original point – I have published nothing that was not plastered all over the maintstream press, which has an international circulation of tens of thousands, and which was frankly rather more disrespectful of the facts and the human tragedy of the case than I think I was. If you can’t make any new points this conversation is going to be drawing to a close. I don’t recall you complaining at the time (although it does appear you were reading).

          • I don’t recall you talking about how “chilling” the case was when I read the blog. Perhaps I missed that.

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