Should the Department of Justice Track Autistic Children?
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder to ask the Department of Justice to fund GPS tracking devices for autistic children–even though there are private companies that already offer this service.
14-year old Avonte Oquendo disappeared from his Long Island school a month ago. He has autism and does not speak. Unfortunately, he has not been found. Parents with autistic children are joining forces with Schumer, who issued a statement:
The sights and sounds of NYC and other busy places can be over-stimulating and distracting for children and teens with Autism, often leading to wandering as a way to escape. Voluntary tracking devices will help our teachers and parents in the event that the child runs away and, God forbid, goes missing. DOJ already funds these devices for individuals with Alzheimer’s and they should do the same for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Funding this program will help put school systems and parents of children and teens with Autism at ease knowing where their children are.The Alzheimer service costs around $100, and the GPS tracking service is between $5 and $50 a month. Additionally, a service like this would require a federal database with private information. AT&T will now sell Amber Alert GPS for kids. The settings are determined by the parents and cost $199. They can get the device for free if they sign a three-year service agreement.
Why does the Department of Justice need to create a federal database on autistic kids with private information? Is this any different than the databases being created on all children via educational sets? When you hear, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”, it usually means a loss of civil liberties. With a federal database of information established on their children, do these families know how their information might be shared and with what other agencies and/or third parties? Should this program of purportedly keeping children safe allow accessibility to individual private information by the Department of Justice and other entities?
Schumer wants this program to be voluntary which is different than the data gathering occurring in Common Core assessment data gathering about students, teachers and principals. Shouldn’t parents and legislators know details about the data capturing on autistic children before they agree to such a proposal?