Council snoopers question five-year-olds on home life
(DAILY MAIL) Children as young as five are being told to fill in Big Brother-style forms which let councils snoop on intimate details about their home lives.
The questions – which have been attacked as exploitative – ask about junk food, television habits, family time and even whether the youngsters ‘like themselves’.
Results are stored on a database, allowing families deemed to be ‘at risk’ to be referred to social services or doctors.
Children are asked to colour in answers to questions such as how much fruit they eat each day compared to crisps and fizzy drinks.
Hundreds of the ‘lifestyle’ quizzes, which are backed by the Department of Health, have been handed out in an attempt to build a picture of the health and wellbeing of individual households.
But privacy campaigners last night condemned the forms. Alex Deane, of Big Brother Watch, described it as ‘an unbelievable intrusion into private life’.
He said: ‘The state doesn’t bring up children, parents do. There is an important distinction between teaching and nannying – or even bullying – and this steps way over the mark.’
The lifestyle quizzes were piloted in Erewash, Derbyshire, where children filled in the forms at ‘healthy living’ after-school clubs, to which parents are invited. Although the survey was not compulsory, pupils were strongly encouraged to fill it in.
The forms will now be sent out to 200 schools across the county and other councils are monitoring the scheme closely.
Daniella Yeo, of Erewash council, said the after-school clubs were very popular and that the questions followed guidelines set by NICE, the NHS’s regulatory body.
She added: ‘They will help us target families at risk of obesity. We can then encourage parents to attend sessions with social services or GPs.’
Other questions for five-year-olds include whether they eat breakfast, how much water they drink and how they get to school.
They are also asked ‘how much to do like yourself?’ – and told to tick a thumbs-up or thumbs- down sign that matches how they feel.
Seven-year-olds are being given an even more detailed quiz in which they say exactly how many hours they spend with their family, watching television and playing computer games.
Civil liberties campaigner Josie Appleton, of the Manifesto Club, said: ‘Councils and schools should concentrate on providing everyone with a good education.
‘But they should keep their noses out of children’s lunchboxes and away from the family dinner table.’