Should Colleges and Universities Contact the Families of Students Who are Struggling?

And if so, under what circumstances should the line between institutional responsibility and the student’s privacy be crossed?

Comments: 20

  1. So, the question is at what point does the institution (a college, in this scenario), become responsible for the knowledge of imminent self-harm of a direct participant in said institution? If it were any other institutions, let's say, a company, a hospital, or a bank. If any of its employees began to display extreme signs of emotional distress or potential suicidal idealizations, do the people in close proximity have a duty to inform the empolyee's emergency contact? Not necessarily a legal one, but an ethical one. One would imagine that people in such a scenario will find it an obligation to prevent any self harm from occurring. So, why is there an exemption for college faculty/administration to inform a potential suicidal student's parents? The justification is unreasonable. The justification is, because this person is officially an adult (according to the law), the institution is not liable for anything that happens to that person. This justification that a potential suicidal student is not the college's responsibility is one rooted in the legal realm. It is devoid of compassion, understanding, context, and any understanding based on reality. College students may be adults legally, but psychologically and socially, they are on the verge of becoming one. Why should colleges act differently than what any other institutions? Whether or not the person in question is of legal age does not justify the abdication of moral, ethical and social responsibilities.

  2. When parents send their kids off to college, there is this expectation that if they are not okay that the parents will be contacted. Once the child is 18 they are legally an adult and if they don’t want their parents involved with their schooling anymore, they don’t have to let them anymore. I believe that if they verbally said they wanted to end their life then the parents should be informed only if the student permits it. You can’t make decisions for the kid anymore because they are an adult and they make their own decisions. Counseling can be recommended for them but ultimately nothing should be forced on them if they don’t want it.

  3. In my opinion, I do not think colleges and universities should contact the families of a student who is struggling. By the time a student is 18, they are an adult and they make decisions for themselves. If a college or university contacts the parents of a student, they are stripping students of their independence. A student cannot be independent and deal with struggles on their own if a college is calling the student's parents. There is also no point in calling the parents because the student is an adult and should be dealing with things on their own.

  4. Yes, because nowadays, a college-age adult is not exactly an adult.

  5. If parents are paying for their child to go to college, than they should be notified if they are struggling. Although college students are technically adults, most of the time they are not the highest authority in their families. Parents have a right to know how their child is doing, so that way if they are failing proper actions can be taken.

  6. I feel as though colleges should be informing students parents of their child's well-being. When parents send their children off to college they expect them to be fine and not have any problems. Even a few calls to their parents will not be enough to actually know what going on at school. I feel like these college students would not tell the truth to their parents and tell them that everything is fine and that their grades are fine also. If the school also took part in telling the parents about how their child is actually doing it will increase the concern for their child's well being and in some way give their child the extra support that they need.

  7. Adapting to the infamous “college life” is something that many students struggle with. Whether an individual’s struggles relate to academics, social, or emotional health, a support system is needed in order to keep them on track. Though many students do not want to get their parents involved when they are struggling, sometimes, doing so is necessary for their well being. Though a person is technically an “adult” when they turn eighteen, they still have a lot of growing up to do. Going to college is not only demanding in terms of academics, but many students struggle with social and emotional aspects of it. When a student’s mental health is put into jeopardy, I feel as though the parents of the student should be informed. The longer that a person goes without seeking help, the deeper of a “pit” that they fall into. Sometimes, students need to push aside the concept that they are adults and turn to others for help. Though many students do not like the idea of their parents getting involved in the personal situations, especially when they are finally classified to be “independent”, sometimes it is necessary in order to maintain their well being.

  8. I think that call parents when their children are in problems it is a good decision because they know their adolescents better than anyone and some advices from family should be a good solution. When adolescents are in college they suffer many personal struggles with classes, live far away of their parents and may be independent for the first time. Many times, they suffer stress and do not have family near them; to bring support is bad. However, we have to consider that some adolescents do not have a good relationship with their parents and they are alone with their problems; in this case, universities have to considerer to bring another way to help them.

  9. Parents should be alert about what their adolescents are doing. Colleges have to take drastic measures and give the necessary information until a certain point because adolescents also need privacy but it is very important to be alert about this case in colleges. I am twenty-two years and I am mother, but sometimes when I am involved in a trouble in any way I call to my mom to speak with her. Even though, I am a mature person to take decision I need my mother’s advice because she has experience and I consider her a good leader in my life to improve myself.

  10. I think that the parents should be alerted if their children are struggling because it is better for the students to have their parents supporting them, they can overcome their problem with help, not all people are able to withstand stress so it is better to support them because some of them can fall into depression or worse.

  11. College Students in The United State are struggling with many difficulties. They are portraying many stress and depression. This situation can lead student to commit suicide, and convict to drugs and become alcoholic. According to the reading, college and university should inform student’s parent when they are dealing with bad grades, and struggling in certain way, because sometime stress cause a mental disorder that make a person choose a bad decision. If they inform the parents, the parents can talk to them about their problems, and will try to solve it. Moreover, parents can know whats going on to their life.

  12. In my opinion, college should tell to the parents the behavior of each student if they have problems because the students are crossing a stage from teenager to young adulthood and not everybody take the same decisions and their life or they have a good life stability.

  13. I believe that parents does always have to know how their children are going at college, even though some students do not want it in that way because both of the independence they think they have and because they do not want to worry them, but I also think that if some parents know what problems their children get, then they can try not only to fix them but also to help them in order to keep them safe. being in any college can be difficult, at least the first years, even more if some students have to carry with many responsibilities or they start to live a independent life, so for me they might have to talk to them about the struggles they have in order to improve their lives.

  14. In first world countries parents let their child to go live by their self. I believe that colleges and universities should not contact family because after eighteen all students become adults. They knows what is good and bad for them. For people like Benjamin Franking, who is known as founding father, he was not even an adults but he continue his goal (reading). One the other hand if family is paying for their child to study then college and universities should let students family knew that how that student is doing in college.

  15. At some point, there needs to be a disconnect between the ties that bind students and their respective guardians. If students at universities cannot determine how they are going to drive themselves to success in college, they will never truly comprehend the necessity for bringing themselves out a difficult situation in the real world. The truth is that if I was not doing well in college, I would be scrambling to see every one of my professors and peers for help, devouring my cup of ramen whilst my commute via bus.

  16. Hamilton College should have contacted Ms.Burton about her son’s well being. Ms.Burton should have been contacted about her son once the College had a clue about Ms. Burton’s son problem. They should only call the parents when their child clearly has a problem and the school knows about it. If it's about grades than its the student's fault and the school shouldn’t have to call the parents of the student. Schools should have full responsibility of the students well being and mental wellness. I think that schools should intervene when a student is having suicidal thoughts and the school's needs to come up with a plan with that student to get them better.

  17. I definitely think that Hamilton should’ve contacted Ms.Burton much sooner. I understand there needs to be some sort of boundary between a students college life and family life because going to college is sort of teaching you how to handle yourself and not rely on your family as much. I also know that if it were up to the students, most of them wouldn’t encourage the college to contact their families if they had failing grades. For me, it’s partially a disappointment thing, I know I don’t want my parents notified if I have failing grades because they’d be so disappointed in me. I would want to keep it a secret and just fix the grades on my own. However, I think in situations similar to that of Graham’s, action needs to be taken immediately. Anxiety, stress, and other emotions like those are common in students who are in high school/college, so it can be hard to decide when it’s more serious. But when you notice these feelings getting more serious in some students who are also showing excessive absences and failing grades, the families need to be contacted right away, no questions asked. I think it’s much better to take action sooner rather than later because it may get worse, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  18. I think that the school should have told Ms. Burton about her son. If he is failing just about all his classes then that might have been a sign. It isn’t the fact that Graham was failing classes, it’s the fact that he got accepted into college and failed 3 out of 4 classes. There was a point where I think that the school could have stepped in to help. Yes, there is the privacy of college students, but like anyone in this world there comes a point where someone has to step in and say something. Yes, in college you have more freedom but, there has to be a point in someone's well being to step in. If all of a sudden the student starts failing classes or is acting different that is when someone needs to step up and say something. I know that if something like this were to happen to me I would want to be able to talk to someone. Sometimes kids don't always talk to their parents about this subject so they feel alone. But, if someone steps in and takes action the students may have someone to talk to and there might not be so many suicides if the students felt like they had one person to talk to.

  19. I believe that schools should contact parents when they see a student struggle to a certain extent. For example, when a student doesn't usually struggle and is not able to get themselves together then yes, the school should contact their parents. When a student seems to always struggle then maybe they need guidance instead of being treated as a child by their parents. Parents tend to help instead of serving as a guide when their child is struggling; based on my own experiences. In conclusion, colleges or universities should only contact the parents of a struggling student to a certain extent.

  20. I think that schools should only contact the parents to a certain extent. The school should've told Ms. Burton about her son. I believe when he stated that he plans to commit suicide they should've intervened. The parents could have gotten the proper help for him that the school didn't provide. I think when students are failing a class, the parents should not be contacted, unless they are constantly failing a majority of their classes. In college, it is the students responsibility to get good grades and pass. The student should not have the stress of the parent watching over their shoulder. I think the school should tell the student's parents when the student all of a sudden begins to act different or miss class.