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New York Schools To Track Kids’ Health With Electronic Tags

New York Schools To Track Kids’ Health With Electronic Tags

A school district in Long Island, New York, has announced that it would be the latest addition to the list of schools using technology to help track students’ activity and fight obesity. What technoloogy? A new program allows school administrators to monitor the heart rates, exercise, and sleep schedules of students using electronic bracelets.

Bay Shore, Long Island, parents are not happy ahout this.

How Will This Invade My Child’s Privacy?

Unanswered questions- including which students will wear the devices, for how long, and the purpose of the gathered data- have parents concerned about the level to which the program will invade their children’s privacy.

Ten Polar Active monitoring bracelets were ordered by the Bay Shore athletic department and will be used throughout the district in the coming semester.

When students wear the watch-like monitors, their heart beats and motion patterns are uploaded onto hand held computers by teachers. That data is then stored into a collection displayed on a password-protected site.

New Jersey And Missouri Already Have This System

The system has been used in school districts in New Jersey and Missouri already, where parents and civil rights advocates were among the most vocal critics.

The root of the riot: The Polar monitors track heart rate and sleep time.

From The Daily Mail:

‘A program like this should only be voluntary. Nobody should be forced to reveal biological indicator,’ (American Civil Union States Spokesman) Stanley told The New York Post.

Little is known how the ten monitors- each of which cost $90- will be spread throughout the seven schools in the Bay Shore school district, or whether students will volunteer or be chosen to participate.

One parent whose child wore the device in his St. Louis elementary school said that she never gave consent and was not privy to the results, both of which she found problematic.

‘I didn’t even know it was going on, and I’m active in the school. We have gotten no information about the website security or where the data will go,’ Beth Huebner told The Post.

Data Collected During Family Time

When they were used in the Parkway School District in Chersterfield, Missouri, some parents were concerned that the data collected by having third, fourth and fifth graders wearing the monitors was not just being used during the school day but also during private family time.

By displaying the childrens’ heart rates and showing how little or much they are active throughout the day, proponents argue that it promotes an interest and awareness of their own efforts.

New York is ranked the 16 worst state in the country in terms of childhood obesity, with 17.1 per cent of children considered officially obese in July.

By comparison, the two other states who have used the monitors, Missouri and New Jersey, are both better off as they are ranked 31st and 21st respectively.

Two Big Questions

There are two big questions here: first, what do you think about school districts stepping in to monitor the health of their students in this way?

Or, to put it another way, given that one third of kids in the U.S. are overweight or obese, shouldn’t we be thankful that someone is watching out for our kids?

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112 comments

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5:51PM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

I would NOT allow any child of mine to wear that monitoring device.I'd also try to get any other parent/caregiver to do the same thing.There comes a time when you have to draw the line and say NO way and be ready to deal with the consequences of standing up for your rights and/or beliefs without wavering or backing down especially when it comes to the children.

8:19AM PST on Jan 24, 2012

share WITH PARENTS and students for a fun and healthy lifestyle - WHY COMPLAIN and go into a tyrant about bs statements of big bother. they are not sneaking kids into basements of nut houses and injecting them with toxins ppl - you and i can't even argue - more info is needed - why close the door before you ask more questions?????

8:18AM PST on Jan 24, 2012

apparently sharon b did not read my entire note and either did the rest of you. i stated the parents work with the OPPERTUNITY and state concerns and be included. i stated that we try it on the entire class to verify all areas of environment pressures and priorities. this could show that certain areas of the school might need to invest in parks or safe areas for children to get exercise. I stated that the info SHARED with parents could help teach parents and childern a healthier lifestyle. Sorry, but children don't ask to be obese and they don't like the teasing and they resent the young health issues. Parents can choose what ever they want, so let your kids grow up healthy and choose what they want. Don't make them fat and tell them to like it. we love and protect our children also and my kids are very open to help others before themselves. i am sorry to offend but we choose to not eat fast food, we cook at home, limit tv and game time, add board games in instead of always videos, keep them active in the winter with physical school activities and keep them outside in the summer using immagination and physical fun. i don't think it's that hard. we monitor the food intake by not mostly healthy, limit pop (no caff pop), and limit sweets. they love to munch on fruits, veggies, nuts, and the occasional sweet snack. school snacks are fruits, crackers with peanutbutter or cheese, etc. now if the school wanted to do a GROUP PROJECT and put a bunch of data together and

8:42AM PST on Jan 19, 2012

Are those that will monitor part of the medical field? Are they asking parents what they think about this? What gives them the right?

8:27PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

I am from Missouri; I was a teacher for thirty-five years; I am outraged that children were used for research without the permission of parents. Something is wrong here! I am also surprised that some Parkway parents haven't sued; they must have chosen children who came from lower middle class or poor families, and there aren't that many in Parkway school district. Obesity is dangerous, but not as dangerous as using children to be a part of an experimental research without the knowledge of parents. Check out our history, when this is done, generally, it is not pretty.

8:21PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

Teri w. nowhere does it say that parents will have access to the info. It also said that the parents were not even informed this was going on and that there has been no clear info on what the actual purpose of this is. I don't know about you but I protect my children from anyone who wishes to use them. This is not their business and smacks of Big Brother watching. The civil rights of these families are being violated when they are not thoroughly informed about everything to do with the monitoring and then given the right to make an informed decision, which includes the word no.

4:08PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

interesting idea, but i dont think it should come into play unless the parents are interested and sign a weaver

1:49PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

What? Is this a new sport, tagging fat kids? I guess they won't be too hard to catch....

12:38PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

It is not up to the schools or the government to monitor obesity. Health is an individual issue and choice. If someone is obese and doesn't want to change them, its not up to anyone else to force the to change their eating habits- whether it effects their health or not.

11:44AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

that is the bad thing about open debates like this. the maturity level spirals with ppl yelling heil hitler! we have a large problem in the us on obese - no it's not illegal yes it is dangerous as hell. now, i - we realize the some ppl are 'big boned' and will always be larger, and that's great! it is the health factors we are looking at here. everyone has THE BEST idea for helping parents help children, but this is a good start. ya know what, instead of banning and bitching, go to the school. suggest that at the elementary level they rotate these bands through the entire class. each child will wear 24/7 for x amount of time. this will allow the data keepers to see a large variety of location, opertunity, etc. i don't know where your kids go but mine have recess every day. with the kids in school and such tight lessons on testing, we can't just jump up and down and cry - i want 2 recesses today. Grow up parents, if you child has one or no recess, when they get home take them for a walk or bike ride. if you work, try to arrange with other parents or relatives to do this so many times a week. a trip to the park, the zoo, clubs, etc. yes, sorry, the parent will have to actually do a little thinking on this one all by themselves. BUT, this bracelet - not tag - not chip - not medically induced zombie meds and mind reading devices, bracelet will HELP parents (single, young, etc) see where they stand and how to improve. NO GOVT CONTROLLED TESTING PPL, and OFFER TO H

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