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Abstract

This article examines the an individual's right to privacy in relation to the state's interest in a smoothly-functioning system of mental health care for minors and concludes with some general guidelines for institutional accountability. The articles states that in order to balance the right of an institutionalized patient to be free from unwarranted invasions of privacy with the public's demand for transparency and accountability, two tasks must be confronted: (1) the limits of institutional and managerial accountability must be defined; and (2) the public's need to know must be balanced with a respect for the patient's personal privacy and material needs. The articles examines these tasks by discussing the parameters of a private right to privacy which was first expounded in 1890 by a law review article written by Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis, and tracks the application of this right to minors and to those in an institutional setting. The article concludes that while the right to privacy is not absolute, it is constitutionally protected and does extend to children. An institutionalized emotionally disturbed child remains a person, protected by the right, even after institutionalization. Therefore, the child's best interest, including his or her psychological well-being, must not be derogated for the sake of public oversight of said institutions.

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