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A sensible idea to save lives

April 27, 2007

A U.S. congressman who is also a child psychologist wants to change the rules governing student privacy.

We applaud the idea because of its life-saving potential, but also believe that no child whose parents are paying for his or her education should hesitate to sign a waiver before the first day of class.

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., told The Associated Press that the recent shootings at Virginia Tech demonstrate that the current privacy rules are too restrictive.

The shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, had been identified as needing mental-health treatment, but privacy rules prevent school officials from telling parents in such cases.

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Murphy's bill would allow contact with a student's parents if a student is deemed at risk of committing suicide, or killing or physically assaulting someone.

Such a law is needed because some parents can't imagine what might happen once their child is away from home.

Before they write a check for the student's first-semester tuition, they need to talk with their child, show them the privacy waiver and explain why it's vital that they sign it. Those who don't want to sign need to tell mom and dad what it is they don't want them to know.

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