The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a pretty harrowing movie. In brief a new SS Kommandant and his family come to a camp. The Kommandant seems like a reasonable man. His family seem very normal. His son makes friends with a boy behind the wire. They ultimately create a hole in the fence between them and get to spend time together. Finally the Boy in the Striped Pajamas is ushered along with a moving crowd toward an onsite facility. The whole thing happens as has been described – so chillingly – naturally. So natural, his new friend follows him in. The movie cuts to the Kommandant trying to find his son that evening.
A year ago a colleague had notice that the HPV vaccine would be given to all girls in her daughters school on such and such a day the following year. A few weeks ago the information and consent forms came around.
The consent form stated that:
“Parents must act in their children’s best interests in considering consent and need to recognize that children who fully understand the issues are legally able to make their own decision about consent”.
After being informed about sexual activity and cancer, the leaflet tells these 12 year old children:
“Its best to involve your parent or guardian but in some cases you can give consent for yourself if you are fully able to understand what is being offered”.
In Britain it is illegal for 16 year old girls to have their ears pierced without their parent’s consent.
Theresa and Amber were chatting in the playground the week before the injection was due. Theresa mentioned she wasn’t having the injection. Amber was surprised and said she was. Half an hour later, my colleague had a phone call from Angela, Amber’s mother, asking why Theresa was opting out.
On the day, one of the teachers came to the door of the class room and read out a list of names. The girls named filed out and followed the teacher to another room, where there was a nurse with a filing box. When Theresa sat down, the nurse flipped through her file and said to Theresa I don’t seem to have a consent form for you but we can go ahead anyway.
It was only at this point Theresa realized that this was about the vaccine. She said she and her mother hadn’t agreed. The nurse said that must explain why they didn’t have a form and said fine – she could go.
Half of the girls were off sick. Some remained off school for the rest of the week.
At the end of the leaflet on HPV, 12 year old girls are told if they have any problems they should report to MHRA (the regulator). This is about as useful as telling a Boy in Striped Pajamas c 1943 to write to the Vatican.