Two recent articles have suggested opening the family to the community and to society in order to enhance the health of children.
In the first of these,* Kempe proposed the use of "health visitors" similar to those used in Scotland. "Visits from a health visitor do not significantly infringe on the parent's right to privacy, but demonstrate that society has the obligation to assure access to the child during the first years of his life rather than waiting until he first enters school at the age of 5 or 6," he says.
"Effective utilization of health visitors in providing preventive pediatric services to all children would avoid some children being lost to the health care system and not receiving the care [and protection] they need."
Norma and Seymour Feshbach believe there is a major barrier preventing "the education of, and communication to, parents of effective and psychologically sound socialization practices."** That barrier, they believe, is the secrecy that surrounds this area of interaction.
"We believe that how a parent rears a child should be an open matter, available for discussion, help, and inquiry," the Feshbachs say. "We would like to emphasize that we believe that the most effective route to the 'invasion of parent privacy' is through education and the provision of concrete support mechanisms for the assistance of individuals in their critical social role as parents."
The Feshbachs add that reciprocity is a critical element in their proposal to remove the shield of privacy now surrounding parent socialization practices, or "parent rites." They regard this shield of privacy as nonconstructive.
"Parents have a right to expect help and receive assistance from their community in regard to information, guidance, and child-care resources," they say. "Children's rights will then be served in two fundamental ways: The community will function as a resource to the parents, which is their right, and as a protector and advocate for children, which is their right."
A community "warm line," which serves as a resource for parents and an advocate for children, is described by Ms. Reid in the following article.