CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP – Rep. Stephenie Scialabba (R-Butler) announced she is introducing legislation after Pennsylvania became the first state in the country to award a statewide $3 million contract to Kooth, a London-based online platform where school-aged children can receive mental health care without parental knowledge, involvement or consent.
The company, which located one of its headquarters in the borough of Forty Fort in Luzerne County, provides this service to 30 school districts in the Commonwealth and is available for any district to join free of cost. Participating schools then make Kooth available directly to students.
“When children display concerning behavior, Kooth notifies the child’s school, not the parents,” said Scialabba. “Children are also able to chat with each other in the platform about sensitive topics, such as suicide or gender identity. Are these chats regulated? Recorded and retained? For how long? Did the kids consent? Are they even able to consent? Where is their data going? Parents deserve the right to have these discussions with their children and to be involved in caring for the most important people in their lives.”
According to Scialabba, her legislation would require school districts to notify parents if they intend to enter a contract with Kooth; mandate specific, informed parental consent for their child to access the platform; share the records with the parents without requiring a Right-to-Know request; and permit parents to sit in the room with their child while using it.
“Our parents are the foundation of our families,” said Scialabba. “I would be gravely concerned if my son was getting mental health advice from a professional without my involvement. I understand these are sensitive topics, but parents must be the ones who have those discussions with their children. I urge them to share concerns with their school district so we can keep Kooth out.”
Representative Stephenie Scialabba
12th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Nate Temple