Vad säger skoldokumentation om elever vars föräldrar har missbruksproblem?
What do school records tell us about pupils whose parents have addiction problems?
The aim of this article is twofold: to discuss problems of access to school records on children whose parents have addiction problems and to analyse if and how school records can contribute to an understanding of how school staff detect and support these children. Young people with this kind of experience were asked for consent at the end of their school career to let researchers acquire all school documents concerning them. Gaining access proved difficult in spite of consent forms, for several reasons put forward by school staff. This raises the question about the possibility for researchers to scrutinize the work of school staff and the individual’s right to access all information schools have about her/him. The second part deals with the problem of interpretation of texts on sensitive issues produced in this particular context. Drawing on earlier research, we may expect that several factors restrain what professionals put on paper and which texts they save. As Garfinkel stated, there are ”good organizational reasons for ‘bad’ clinical records” (1989:186). The results show accurate documentation of standard variables on pupils’ physical development, but unsystematic, vague or non-existent documentation of their mental status and social problems outside school. The analysis suggests a need for clarification in legislation and routines concerning school’s documentation and of researchers’ as well as children’s access to documentation of school work. To understand the conditions at school for children with this kind of family troubles, listening to children themselves and ethnographic studies seem to be better ways to get information.