Would You Microchip Your Child?

imageIt’s hard being a parent. You love them with every part of you, there is nothing I can do to explain just how much I love my children. I’m sure you’re the same.

A story came up in my Newsfeed last week, Lost-Kidz App have an app to help you find your child if they are lost, and they were discussing whether people would micro-chip their child in order to keep them safe.

I understand the driving need to keep them safe at all times. I really do. I couldn’t bear the thought of something happening to mine. It is one my biggest fears.

But microchipping is not the way.

Sometimes I fear we as a nation are moving in a dangerous direction. We fear so much for our children and companies and governments play so much into that fear that we do not consider the wider implications.

This is not about keeping children safe, which is of course important. This is about civil liberties and freedom. Our children are not cats and dogs, they are people. Of course I can see the huge benefit of knowing where they are should anything happen to them. A few months back we lost our son in Sainsburys, it can’t really have been for anything longer than 5 mins, but it felt like forever. My husband and I looked everywhere, my husband even ran out into the car park to search for him. Just as we were about to hit super panic mode he came bounding up to us grinning saying he had been doing his shopping (grr). However, well do I remember that sick, terrifying feeling.

Would I microchip him to prevent it happening again? No. Although I might consider a toddler wristband, but to me that is something else entirely, not something that is permanently branded into a person’s body.

 I have three main thoughts about microchiping:

  • Does this take us on a path where we’re taking away civil liberties?
  • Is it right to take these away for someone else? Even if they are our children?
  • Or, is this just another marketing ploy, a way to make parents feel superficially better and make us spend yet more money?

Go on a journey with me if you don’t mind… This is stretching it a bit to Sci-Fi levels, but it’s not that too much of a stretch…

Let’s start with the justification. We want to keep our children safe, of course we do. It’s ok… We’ll remove it when they’re sixteen. We’ll tell ourselves that anyway. Or perhaps they’ll be a new gadget which will make the microchip appealing. I don’t want to remove it – it means I can pay for things more quickly, I no longer need to pay for a passport, I get free cinema tickets or something else as frivolous. Or perhaps it will be something as simple as – everyone has one so what does it matter?

Or perhaps the chip will expire at 16 years. Is it ok to take away some of your child’s civil liberties to keep them safe? Let’s think about this for a moment. It might be ok for babies and toddlers, but what about the impact of this as they get older? To know exactly where they are, every minute of the day – when they pee, did they slip into the newsagents for a cheeky packet of crisps on the way home from school? When they go to their girlfriend’s instead of the library, or maybe even when they sneak to the shops to buy us a Mother’s Day present.

Perhaps you’ll need to moderate their diet, because of that packet of crisps. You know, to maintain their healthy BMI – it’s easier to control their diet for them if you know exactly what they’re doing, to keep them healthy and all.

How does it teach your child about responsibility, about trust? If we as parents cannot give it to them? Growing up is about making mistakes, it is about rebelling, because it’s about learning. They need to learn about risks in a reasonably safe way, not have us watching their every move and interfering.

You’ll tell yourself you wouldn’t do it. But you would. How often do you stalk someone you shouldn’t on Facebook? You’d go further if you could… Wouldn’t you? Don’t lie… Curiosity is a naughty beast.

Now rewind to the present day – would you willingly be microchipped? Of course not. Imagine someone being able to track your every move, your productivity at work perhaps, your partner ensuring your behaviour is acceptable, maybe your GP will monitor your fast food habits and refuse medical treatment because you’re overweight and you bought a McDonalds last week.

I know I’m taking things a touch too far here, but at the same time, it’s not that far out of the realms of possibility is it? One small increment at a time, we change something that wasn’t acceptable, to actually it’s ok or not as bad as we thought it was going to be. And then it is acceptable and we have lost something without truly even realising it.

So tell me, would you microchip your child?


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10 thoughts on “Would You Microchip Your Child?

  1. No I wouldn’t. I too have been through the lost child thing – Ben wandered off one time when he was little. I still remember the awful feeling that blanked out everything in the world until he was found. But….. we need to bring up our children and teach them to have responsible attitudes, we won’t be there for ever and the most important thing you can do is gradually equip your child to survive in the world on their own. It is a very natural thing to want to protect them against anything in the world that might harm them, but one day they will be adults and if we have not taught them how to look after themselves – by example not by tracking – we have not done our job as parents.
    In addition, it is easy to make a case for something like this with a worthy motive only to find that later on it has been misused to curtail civil liberty. As your last question asks, I would not have one in me, and if I wouldn’t do it to myself I couldn’t countenance doing it to a child.

  2. A very interesting post and as the Mum of a child with Down’s syndrome who has been a ‘runner’ in the past this is a topic we have discussed at home, albeit jokingly. Of course you are right, the is open to misuse and removal of civil liberties, but I read only this week about a court ruling to sterilise a woman with a learning disability. Perhaps it’s already happening…?

  3. @Hilary I just worry this is a slippery slope 🙁 maybe I am over dramatising things, but..

    @Downs Side Up – you can get bracelets and I can understand using those, especially if your child is running. In terms of genetic cleansing I was reading a very interesting post on A Mother’s Journey last week about how women are influenced to abort non-perfect babies. Your comment on the poor woman being sterilised is awful, what gives us the right to take that away from another person? 🙁

  4. Oh goodness yes, women are subtle guided towards abortion daily. 92% of babies with Down’s Syndrome are terminated with little unbiased support to make that life changing decision given. It’s something I am passionate about changing.

  5. @Downsideup 92% wow that’s such a sad statistic 🙁 for – I am following your blog on bloglovin now, so I’ll look forward to reading about you and your lovely daughter 🙂

  6. I would seriously consider this for my daughter with Autism. Like Hayley’s daughter she is a runner but has no understanding of danger. Because of this she has to constantly be in a pushchair at almost 5 years old. While I don’t think the chip would stop her running into a road etc it probably would give me peace of mind. She often goes on trips with school and the thought of it make me a nervous wreck. I know we are not the norm, and I wouldn’t get it for her younger brother but I think it could be useful for some including people with dementia x

  7. I think microchipping is pushing the limits, but I certainly understand parents who like that option. Almost half of all children with autism will wander at least once. We read about missing children with autism and on so many occassions the end of the search is not a happy one. There are lots of tracking devices available as well as options on where to put the tracking devices. Hopefully these are good options for parents. Luckily, I don’t have a wanderer!

  8. What an interesting (if not totally alarming!) post. I’m totally with you on everything you’ve said. You’ve argued this so well, and the points you make about society accepting small changes that increment to much greater problems, the power of marketers to feed on fear, risk taking being removed from childhood, and parents making individual choices that affect wider society are all things that could be applied to medical ethic debates or modern parenting practices in general. Brilliant post. Please God this does not become accepted practice….S

  9. @Lauren when I wrote this post, I have to say I had never considered if from a special needs point of view and that is a good comment on dementia too. I still think a bracelet or similar would be better than something branded into your body though.

    @Mary yes I can imagine having a wanderer is very stressful. Like you have suggested though I think an app or a bracelet would be a better option

    @Siobhan thanks for your lovely comment. I agree it is alarming and I really do understand the lure – but it really concerns me the loss of liberty

  10. To be honest, without giving it too much thought I think I would have thought this was a great idea, until I read this that is. Forgetting all the other well argued points It made me think what my 16yo self would have thought..not impressed is putting it mildly. This isn’t actually something you can do is it??

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