The Situation: Millions of United States schoolchildren are taking dangerous psychiatric drugs.
An estimated 8 million school age children in the United States are on psychiatric drugs today. That means we are giving very powerful, extremely dangerous psychotropic substances to about 15 % of our country's children between the ages of 5 and 19. This first came to the country's attention in 1970 when the U. S Congress was alarmed enough by the news that 200,000 school children were taking Ritalin to call for an investigative hearing on the issue. Since that time, we have witnessed a 4000% increase in the number of children on psychiatric drugs in this country! Regardless of the extent to which our leaders and large segments of our general population have become so numbed and confused by the constant onslaught of psychopharmaceutical propaganda celebrating the alleged medical necessity of giving psychoactive drugs to children, these numbers are astounding.
The Big Lie: Psychiatric drug treatment of our children is a complete fraud.
Adding to our astonishment is the indisputable fact that almost every one of these children is given one or more psychiatric drugs without a shred of scientific evidence demonstrating that they actually have a disease. The scientific medical procedures for diagnosing disease are very simple and straightforward. The diagnostician, in this case a physician licensed by the government to give the final word, tests for a confirmatory physical or chemical abnormality which has been previously discovered and validated in the scientific literature. Objective evidence of such an abnormality allows the physician to differentiate the diseased individual from one who is normal. In 1998, when the country's top experts on so-called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) got together to reach a consensus, they all had to agree in the end that there was no independent objective test to allow such a diagnostic process to occur. The same is true for every problem routinely seen by a psychiatrist. The bottom line is that, without confirmatory evidence of disease, the "treatment" of children with chemical substances, even if psychiatry calls such substances "medicine," is a complete fraud. To say otherwise is a total abrogation of the right of parents to authentic informed consent in decisions on behalf of their children.
Despite this clear and simple truth, the propaganda machines of the psychiatric drug industry relentlessly grind on, constantly inundating all of us with fear-engendering declarations of the growing rates of various mental illnesses, deficiencies, disorders, conditions and other psychiatric euphemisms. We are told that millions of our children suffer from such diseases as attention deficit, conduct disorder, oppositional disorder, anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, and a slew of others such as extreme shyness. Learning problems, such as failure to read at a certain level, are presented to us as due to an underlying disorder which is brain or neurologically based. And all of these conditions are, of course, said to be helped by any one of a host of miraculous psychiatric "medications." And though it seems almost unbelievable, the propaganda is getting even more intense and brazen. As Kate Zernike and Melody Petersen report in the August 19, 2001 New York Times, "Children return to classrooms this fall amid an increasingly pitched battle over Ritalin and other drugs used to treat millions with behavioral and emotional problems in school. Drug companies are breaking with 30-year-old international marketing restrictions to advertise directly to parents, selling the idea that drugs may be the answer to their children's problems in school." These mercenary industries have no shame.
Coercion: Parents are pressured and threatened to drug their children.
Psychiatry's deliberate lies and misinformation in perpetrating the unnecessary drugging of millions of our children are only part of this story of the betrayal of our nation's children and families. The government plays a critical role in this perpetration by funding dangerous drug research on our children for "treatment" of these fictitious diseases, primarily through the National Institutes of Mental Health. The government also covers up our nation's failure to meet our children's needs by actively spreading the propaganda lie that we have all these "mentally ill" children who need the right drugs to control their biologically or genetically based diseases, failing to accept the truth that no science legitimizes this claim.
It gets worse than even this gross malfeasance. The government, though its public schools, through its courts, and through its so-called child protective services agencies, creates, promotes and allows the deliberate coercion of parents to drug their children.
School personnel routinely pressure parents to consider psychiatric drugs for their children. The courts enforce psychiatric orders to drug children. A very high percentage of children who have become wards of the state are placed on psychiatric drugs. Today, it has gotten so bad that parents who resist psychiatric orders to drug their children are accused of medical negligence and threatened with loss of custody. Doing the right thing in defense of their children has actually caused parents in our country to have their children taken away by the state.
We all need to be seriously concerned about the harm perpetrated on our children and schools by this massive experiment in social engineering via psychiatric drug use on our children. Here is a summary of a few of the reasons why.
Ten Reasons To Be Concerned About Psychiatry In The Schools
- An estimated 8,000,000 United States school children are on psychiatric drugs. This represents approximately 15% of our children. There has been at least a 700% increase in the number of United States school children on psychiatric drugs in the last decade. (See John Breeding's July 2000 article in Mothering magazine.)
- 90% of the world's methylphenidate production is consumed in the United States, mostly by our children. (Drug Enforcement Administration report)
- There are absolutely no positive long-term effects of these drugs on learning, academic performance, or social behavior. (See Swanson, J.S, McBurnett, K. et al., "Stimulant medication and the treatment of children with Attention Deficit Disorder: A Review of Reviews." Exceptional Children, 1993,Vol 60, pp. 154-161.)
- The psychiatric diagnoses for which these drugs are prescribed, including ADHD, have not been scientifically validated as real diseases. ( See November 1998 NIH Consensus Conference on ADHD)
- Psychiatric drugs such as Ritalin, Prozac and many others are dangerous and harmful to our children. Virtually every organ system is harmed, including cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory, and central nervous system. (See Physicians Desk Reference)
- These drugs can and do cause death. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adverse reaction report data include 160 Ritalin-related deaths between 1990 and 1997, mostly cardiovascular-related. These voluntary FDA reports represent only a fraction of the actual incidents.
- These drugs have been consistently linked to dramatic episodes of violence in the schools. Research clearly shows that aggressive and injurious behavior toward self or others can be an effect of the drugs while taking them or during withdrawal. (See Ann Tracy's book, Prozac: Panacea or Pandora)
- Parents and educators are often given false information about psychiatric diagnoses and psychiatric drugs.
- Parents have been pressured by school personnel to have their children evaluated for placement on psychiatric drugs. School personnel need reminders that this is illegal, and parents need to know that this is not the concern of their children's schools.
- Resource spent on unproven biopsychiatric methods of dealing with children diverts and distracts resolve and attention to finding ways to meet the very real educational needs of our children. We have proven educational methods for successfully helping children with learning challenges.
The evidence is clear. The well-being of our children, our families, and our educational system is in danger. In a very real sense, we are under siege, held hostage to the dictates of institutional psychiatry and its insidious interface with our educational system. The United States government supports and encourages this siege, and provides the legitimized authority to threaten and punish those who challenge it. It is true that this intimidation, backing up the relentless onslaught of biopsychiatric propaganda, has resulted in a great deal of fear and apathy in the United States population. That is the bad news.
We are happy to report, however, that thanks to the deep caring, courage and commitment of determined parents and freedom fighters, considerable good news is at hand. Even while psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry has celebrated in the profits of their successful exploitation of children as their primary economic growth market of the last two decades, activists have successfully cracked and eroded the monolithic front of the psychiatric propaganda campaign. All Americans with the slightest awareness know that the psychiatric drugging of children is extremely controversial today. An internet or bookstore search for related resources no longer turns up only the false propaganda of biological psychiatry, but greets the seeker with a host of indicting challenges and alternatives to labeling and drugging children. More and more parents and other adult allies of children are responding like Tunku Varadarajan, the Wall Street Journal editor who wrote a recent editorial subtitled, "I'll be damned if I let a psychiatrist near my son."
Turning the Tide: We can defend our children.
This same group of concerned parents and child advocates is not only experiencing their outrage, they are also taking the offensive, politically challenging the psychiatric drugging of children. Three specific halls of power that have witnessed effective political action in defense of our children are state boards of education, state departments of education, and state legislatures. Here are two examples of successful action in each of these arenas. The thrust of this document is to get individuals in states across the nation involved in one of these activities -- getting legislation introduced.
State Boards of Education
A successful effort in the fall of 1999 in the state of Colorado gave an inspiring shot in the arm to a growing concern of many citizens about the use of dangerous psychotropic drugs with children in the United States, and the psychiatric invasion of children in the confines of our public schools. Colorado State Board of Education member Patty Johnson sponsored a "Resolution promoting the use of academic solutions to resolve problems with behavior, attention and learning." Much citizen support and expert testimony resulted in successful passage of this groundbreaking initiative on November 11, 1999. The effects of this non-binding resolution have been impressive, lending hope and focus to our challenge, and impacting the public with a voice of dissent. This resolution expressed the clear alarm of a state's leading educational body about the negative effects of the psychiatric drugging of children in our schools, and the clear intention that school personnel should refocus their energy and attention on authentic and proven academic methods for helping children learn.
These types of initiatives, even where they lack legal or administrative authority, make a real difference. This Colorado action inspired a group of citizens in a nearby state to form an organization called Texans For Safe Education (TFSE) whose express purpose is to challenge the ever-increasing role of psychiatry, especially psychiatric drugs, in the schools. The First TFSE initiative was to encourage the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) to follow in Colorado's footsteps by making a statement on this issue. This initiative was highly successful. The SBOE held a special hearing on the issue of psychiatric drugs in the schools on November 1, 2000. Board member Judy Strickland sponsored a resolution, longer and stronger than the Colorado precedent which inspired its creation, which the Board passed two days later on November 3rd.
State Departments of Education
It is our understanding that current practice of school personnel of pressuring or coercing parents on the issue of psychiatric drugs for children is a violation of federal laws already in place. Jennifer Wood, Chief Legal Counsel for the Rhode Island Department of Education, agrees. On May 15, 2000, she issued a legal advisory to all public schools in Rhode Island, stating that, "it is not lawful for school personnel to require that a child continue or initiate a course of taking medication as a condition of attending school." Ms Wood went even further to argue that school personnel must refrain from even suggesting or recommending such a course of action which constitutes medical advice.
David Anderson, General Legal Counsel for the Texas Education Agency (TEA), was unwilling to go so far as Ms Wood and affirm that recommendations or suggestions to parents that their children take psychiatric drugs are illegal. He did, however, write the following on August 2, 2001, in response to a direct query from Texans for Safe Education: "A public schoolÕs attempt to require a child to take a psychoactive medication as a condition of enrolling or attending school is unlawful. Threats to expel from public school a child who is not put or continued on a psychoactive medication are also unlawful."
These legal interpretations are a very important tool for defending parents and children against psychiatric coercion and the dangers of toxic psychiatric drugs. Parents who know their rights can confidently assert their refusal to drug their children. Schools where personnel violate the law can be effectively sued. In the case of Texas, the TEA statement puts some teeth into the spirit and intention of the non-binding SBOE resolution.
Perhaps most auspicious is that citizen activists are moving state legislatures to prevent schools from recommending or requiring that parents put their children on medication. In July of 2001, Minnesota became the first state to bar schools and child protection agencies from telling parents they must put their children on drugs to treat alleged illnesses like ADHD. This law is congruent with the Texas Education Agency legal interpretation mentioned above. In October, Connecticut will go a step further when a new law takes effect prohibiting any school staff member from discussing drug treatment with a parent to assure that such talk comes only from doctors. The Connecticut law fully enforces the Rhode Island legal interpretation of existing federal statutes. This is a very exciting development and shows not only that more and more citizens are seeing through the psychiatric and educational propaganda, but also that our elected officials can be very responsive to citizen initiatives to defend children and take back parental rights.
Child Removal from the Home: Another Terrible Threat to Families
The dramatic increase in numbers of United States schoolchildren on psychiatric drugs is a result of systematic pressure placed on parents to administer these drugs to their children. While most of this pressure has been somewhat covert, it has not been uncommon to threaten parents with school dismissal of their child. Lately, psychiatric coercion of families has gotten even worse.
Two New York families can attest to the fact that parents are increasingly being accused of child abuse or neglect and threatened with removal of their child from the home if they refuse to give their child prescribed psychiatric drugs. Jill and Michael Carroll were concerned that their son, Kyle, was sleeping only five hours a night and eating only one meal a day. So they told school officials they wanted to take Kyle off the Ritalin for two weeks to see if that helped. Sounds reasonable, but that's when they got a call, and then a visit, from a Child Protective Services worker, based on a complaint from Kyle's school guidance counselor. The charge was "Child abuse," in the form of "medical neglect." The Albany Times Union (May 7, 2000) reports the Carrolls are now on a statewide list of alleged child abusers, and find themselves "thrust into an Orwellian family court battle to clear their name and ensure their child isn't removed from their home." This February, Tammy Kubiak of Buffalo, New York, lost custody of her 12-year-old son for taking him off of three psychiatric drugs which she reports were making him "zombie-like."
We are witnessing a frightening, draconian assault on families. Parents who attempt to protect their children from the dangerous, harmful effects of psychiatric drugs are accused of irresponsible neglect and threatened with state removal of their children. This is a family's worst nightmare come true, and it is a shame and a disgrace. The therapeutic state is truly out of control.
Our legislative action should also address this egregious threat of families being torn apart by the state. Fortunately, the Connecticut law again provides a model as that state included a specific provision protecting families from such heavy-handed violation.
A Call to Legislative Action Against the Psychiatric Drugging of Children
There are many alternatives available to citizens who want to take action against the psychiatric drugging of children. This pamphlet has described three: initiatives with state boards of education, department of education legal counsels, and state legislatures, respectively. These are all highly significant and worthy of time and effort. Here is what we think would be most effective. We recommend that citizens push for state legislative action across the nation.
Now is the time for a concerted, unified political action. Across this vast country. In defense of our children. Now is the time to put a halt to this psychiatric/educational scourge which is hurting our children, undermining our schools, and threatening our families. To demand that we stop labeling our children as pathologically deficient. To stop drugging them with toxic chemicals. To take responsibility for the care and well-being of our precious children.
It is time to take action. The general assembly of Connecticut, influenced by the citizens of that state, passed into law, by a 141-0 vote, a demand that school personnel stop recommending, suggesting, pressuring, coercing in any way parents and children on the issue of psychiatric drugs. It is now a crime to do this in Connecticut. It is time to make this a crime in states throughout the nation. The Connecticut law also prohibits the state from threatening parental custody for refusal to consent to psychiatric drugs for their children.
We want citizens like you in every state to organize and prepare for action. We want you to take the Connecticut model, as written below with minor revisions to that state's version, and pursue legislators in your state to sponsor this type of legislation. We want you then to lobby your legislature to pass such a bill into law. We want this to be happening in all of these United States. What we want is simple: families free of psychiatric coercion; children safe, free to learn, free to develop themselves and their character without drugs.
The Connecticut Law: A model that can be used in your state
Connecticut Public Act No. 01-124 is titled, "An act concerning recommendations for and refusals of the use of psychotropic drugs by children and utilization review determinations related to mental and nervous conditions." Here is the recommended wording of proposed legislation, a slightly revised version of the Connecticut law, which would be pertinent to the issue of psychiatric drugs in the schools.
1. Each local school board of education shall adopt and implement policies prohibiting any school personnel from recommending the use of psychotropic drugs for any child, including inferring that the child must take a psychotropic drug as a condition for attending school; and coercing or intimidating parents or guardians into seeking medication or pursuing specific psychological or psychiatric diagnoses or psychotherapies for their child; and providing any in-school mental examinations.
2. The refusal of a parent or guardian of a child to administer or consent to the administration of any psychotropic drug to the child or to consent to any other specific psychological or psychiatric diagnoses or psychotherapies shall not, in and of itself, constitute grounds for a finding of educational neglect or medical neglect to be used by the Department of Children and Family Services to remove the child from the home.
Breeding, J. The Wildest Colts Make The Best Horses. Bright Books, 1996.
Breggin, P. Talking Back To Ritalin. Common Courage Press, 1998.
www.adhdfraud.org. Dr. Fred Baughman's excellent website, containing the best of his essays revealing that ADHD is not a real disease.
www.wildestcolts.com. John Breeding, Ph.D., posts a wealth of information on psychiatry, parenting and his work as director of Texans for Safe Education.
www.drugawareness.org. Dr. Ann Tracy's International Coalition for Drug Awareness posts excellent information on the effects of psychiatric drugs, especially the so-called SSFIs -- Prozac, Paxil, Luvox, etc.