Dayton Daily News education reporter Scott Elliott writes about schools, kids, teaching and learning
Computer: your kid has “disorders”
October 28, 2005
Imagine your teenager comes home from school looking depressed. You ask what’s wrong. She says, “Oh, it’s just my social anxiety disorder.”
Yes, she tells you, she has social anxiety disorder. And also obsessive compulsive disorder.
What are you talking about, you ask? Who is telling you this?
They told me at school!
And no, it wasn’t a psychologist, social worker or even the school nurse that told her. It was: a computer! They call it TeenScreen.
Yesterday, I complained about computerized scoring of tests. Now one Indiana school is taking things even further with the computer. They’re letting the computer diagnose you kid’s alleged mental problems!
A civil liberties group called The Rutherford Institute that is suing the South Bend, Ind., school district on behalf of 15-year-old Chelsa Rhodes, described what occurred:
“Students were divided into groups of 10-15, herded into classrooms and placed in front of computers. After completing the examination and being escorted into a private hallway by an employee of Madison Center, Chelsea was informed that based on her responses that she liked to clean and didn’t like to party very much, she suffered from at least two mental health problems, obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder.
Chelsea was also told that if her condition worsened, her mother should take her to the Madison Center for treatment. According to Chelsea, a majority of the students who were subjected to the TeenScreen exam were also told that they were suffering from some sort of mental or social “disorder.”
I am amazed first of all that anyone would think a computer could diagnose mental disorders, and that a school district would buy into this, and that it would subject kids to such a test without parental consent or without having the results explained to the kids by some kind of professional.
TeenScreen bills itself as a suicide prevention system. But I found one blogger who alleges TeenScreen is backed by drug companies who would love to see more kids taking meds.
How do you think you would react if this happened at your child’s school?