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In a shocking move, the Bush administration actually passed a bill that allows parents to have the final say in whether or not their kids are drugged for psychological "disorders".  

This came just days after passing an opposing bill that creates a program to make psychological testing mandatory in public schools.

The government may be in bed with Big Pharma, but at least they are not yet calling for a wholesale drugging of the masses, a la Brave New World.

We are fortunate that there are some people paying attention to this under reported topic, and that they are willing to push back against the drug industry.  While we may have taken a step back, this new bill has kept that backwards movement to a minimum.

If you missed it, here is a recap of the story so far...

Last month the Bush administration passed the New Freedom (from Dissent!) Iniative, which was included in the Omnibus Spending Bill.  The program was designed along the lines of similar programs already in use in Texas and some other states, and attached mandatory psychological testing to federal funding for educational facilities and health centers.  While this may sound innocuous, it really stems from a push by the drug industry to get more customers.  The more kids they can get addicted to mind altering drugs, the better their profits.  And, while many people, including kids, do have real problems fitting in to society, and may behave outside of our social norms, the drugs that are being prescribed for these antisocial behaviors have never been proven to cure anyone.  (Only therapy and a better understanding of a child's background can permanently help.)  In fact there have been studies lately that show, especially in kids and teens, that many of these psychoactive drugs have a dangerous effect on the users.  These dangers are so prevalent that the FDA is now forcing drug companies to include "black box" warnings on the drug boxes.

For more information on the background of the New Freedom (from Dissent) Iniative, see my collection of articles.

Now for the good news.  From a story on the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights website:

In order to receive federal funds under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), the "Prohibition on Mandatory Medication Amendment," was signed into law by President Bush today and requires schools to implement policies that prohibit schoolchildren being forced onto psychiatric drugs as a requisite for their education.
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Hundreds of parents across America have been pressured to put their school-aged children onto cocaine-like stimulants or antidepressants for which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just ordered a "black box label" warning of the drugs' high risk of causing suicide among children and adolescents. Ms. Kelly Preston, who met with members of Congress in June last year to enlist support of the amendment, said, "Every mother has an inherent right to protect her child from harm. However, many mothers have been denied that right because psychiatrists have inundated unwitting teachers with the false opinion that educational and behavioral problems are symptoms of 'mental disorders' that require mind-altering drugs. This law gives hope for a new era in education, one where teachers are free to work with parents to find academic solutions instead of unworkable and harmful psychiatric treatments that benefit no one but the psychiatric industry."
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CCHR says the next step in educational reform is to remove psychiatric and psychological testing and screening from schools which are the feeder lines to psychiatrists who have made turning schools into mental health clinics a business. Millions of students are now dependent upon psychiatric drugs or are taking them illegally. CCHR, joined by scores of parents and civil rights groups, say the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health's recommendations for mandatory mental health screening in school is a frightening representation of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, in which Huxley describes a controlled "utopian" civilization achieved with the "technique of suggestion - through infant conditioning and, later, with the aid of drugs." While the "Prohibition on Mandatory Medication Amendment" will help prevent some of psychiatry's propensity to drug all normal childhood behavior, many charge that the spurious sounding "Freedom Commission on Mental Health" and its recommendations will open another door to dangerous conditioning leading to massive increases in psychotropic drugging of a new generation.

If the schools are one of the last refuges of democratic education, then we must continue to fight for the rights of our children to be taught in an environment that encourages creativity, personal responsibility, and rational thought.  Kids who may not "fit in" should not be left behind!  These kids have a right to be educated, not medicated into oblivion.  (Some medication may temporarily be useful, but only if it is accompanied by good cognitive therapy, and a realization that not all kids learn well in a static, overcrowded classroom.)  We need quality public schools to ensure an educated intelligent electorate in the future, and to do that we need to make sure that our schools aren't simply drumming obedience into their students, by drugging them into submission.  Fortunately, parents still have that right, though we need to be aware of this issue, lest another bill like the New Freedom (from Dissent!) Iniative sneaks by again.

Originally posted to turtle on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 12:55 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This really is good news (none)
    If a school district determined that a child suffered from ADD, and the parent disagreed, the school district could force the parent to put the child on Ritalin.  If the parent refused, the school district could remove the child from his or her home because the parent was being "negligent."

    So this really is good news.  Thanks for posting this info, I've recommended it.

    The Baptist Death Ray (bdr[at]baptistdeathray[dot]com)
    "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
    - Edward Young

    by The Baptist Death Ray on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 12:50:37 PM PST

  •  I would love it (none)
    if someone could show me the actual text of the legislation authorizing the mandatory mental health evaluations.  The appropriations legislative language is not available on line yet (at least that I've been able to find).  I will remain skeptical until I see it in writing in the Appropriations bill.

    "If there was hope, it lies in the proles"

    by lapin on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 01:16:53 PM PST

    •  I'm convinced this was an urban legend (none)
      that was started when someone misread this paragraph in this NAMI article:
      A separate effort to prevent funds under this initiative (also known as State Incentive Grants) from being used to support mental health screening of children under age 18 was rejected. A group of House members - led by Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) - had proposed to impose restrictions on the program out of fear that it would support screening that would be universal, mandatory and without parental consent. In fact, the White House Mental Health Commission recommends voluntary screening and early intervention (coupled with the active involvement of families) as effective strategies integral to mental health transformation.

      I think some freeper read "for fear that" as if it was implying that if funds were allocated, they would be used for mandatory testing. I think it was a way for our conservative friends to cut money for another "unnecessary social program" out of the budget. It sure caused a panic!

      "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

      by Glinda on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 01:49:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The wording of the bill leaves it open to states. (none)
      While the New Freedom (from dissent) Iniative funding does not require Federal mandatory testing, it does leave open the possibility that the states recieving the funds would do so.  Here is a snippet from another article that may clarify things:

      The federal bill on its face does not require mandatory mental health testing to be imposed upon states or local schools, explained Serkes.

      However, the HHS appropriations bill contains block grant money that will likely be used - as is often the case with block funding - by the various states to implement mandatory psychological testing programs for all students in the school system.

      The spending bill has its roots in the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, created by President Bush in 2002 to propose ways of eliminating waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness of the mental health care delivery system.

      Although the report does not specifically recommend screening all students, it does suggest that "schools are in a key position to identify the mental health problems early and to provide a link to appropriate services."

      The bottom line, explained Serkes, is that a state receiving money under this appropriation will likely make its mental testing of kids mandatory - and not be out of synch with the federal enactment.

      The problem was that the idea of mandatory testing was promoted, and that the bill specifically did nothing to prevent such a program, despite all the concerns raised.  Now, at least there is a bill giving parents the untimate control over their kid's "treatment" even if he or she is diagnosed with a "mental disorder".

      •  Americans will not stand (none)
        for mandatory psych testing of their children.  The first schoolboard that tries to implement this will go up in smoke.  I'll get back to you if I see this in any of the grant opportunities posted by HHS or Ed in the coming year, cause I've been looking for it.

        "If there was hope, it lies in the proles"

        by lapin on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 02:35:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You are citing Newsmax??!! (none)
        I'm sorry but I liken this to my citing the guy who stands outside my apartment raving that the Rockefeller's have invaded his brain.

        So based on your closing paragraph, the furor is based on ... well not to mince words but ... paranoia. As far as my understanding -- and my experience involves 3+ years of heavy involvement and research into parental rights vis-a-vis the public school system -- parental rights are implicit and have years of legal and judicial precedence as backup. In order for anyone to conjecture that such testing would be mandatory it would have to have included a clause explicitly overriding parental consent.

        Once again, right-wing groups with their own agendas was almost able to derail necessary funding based on "tin-foil" thinking.

        "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

        by Glinda on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 08:42:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Attention, please! (none)
    "This came just days after passing an opposing bill that creates a program to make psychological testing mandatory in public schools."

    Could someone please give me a link to the original "mandatory testing" bill! I tried looking for it for 3 days solid and came up empty. There was panic going on at my daughter's school and the only places I could find even a reference to it was Phyllis Schlafly's website. She is about as reputable a source of information as freerepublic.com!

    I had begun to believe that the original bill is a figment of right-wing imagination. So if you have a legitimate source, please reply and give me a link!

    "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

    by Glinda on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 01:36:57 PM PST

    •  The silence is telling ... (none)
      no links to the original bill, I guess!

      "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

      by Glinda on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 08:30:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  there are several links (none)
        I posted a comment above that explains what the implications of the bill could be.  The bill itself isn't very useful because it is so openended.  

        That's why the new bill, specifically granting the parents the right of refusal, was created.  Without this explicitly spelled out as a law, there was no clear recource for parents to have a say in the matter.  

        I think this new law is excellent evidence that there could easily have been a problem with the original New Freedom (from dissent) Iniative bill.

        •  I was asking for a link to the original bill (none)

          "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

          by Glinda on Wed Dec 22, 2004 at 08:51:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  many of the links I posted have a link (none)
            to the original New Freedom (from dissent) Commission's suggestions.  

            Here is the official government site for the plan itself.  The specific funding that was passed in the Omnibus Spending Bill merely put the money up for grabs for the states to use as they wished.  The worst problem was that the funding specifically did not prevent states from making this testing manditory.

            The Bush plan is based on the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) which is geared towards proscribing expensive, new drugs to kids who are found to be "mentally ill" during routine screenings in schools and other community-based institutions.

            As in pretty much everything that comes out of the Bush administration (like the cough Clear Skies Iniative cough) the devil is in the details.

  •  The Religious Right and the Left are in line here (none)
    This is one where the Religious Right is exactly where we are on the left --

    Their paranoia about public schools is such it will be over their dead body they let schools dictate meds for their kids.

    We agree with them for more rational reasons- but this is a GREAT example of a number of issues where the religious right and the left SHOULD be working together...

    Bush will be impeached.

    by jgkojak on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 01:46:26 PM PST

    •  I think it was a red herring (none)
      ... to try to keep any funds from being allocated for psychological testing ... even the voluntary kind.

      Remember that The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is a Church of Scientology group. And the Scientologist don't want anyone butting in to their "personality testing" business.

      I think people were fooled by their panic to be against funding this at all. Very Rovian thinking on their part!

      "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

      by Glinda on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 01:55:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not a one sided issue. (none)
        The broad issue here is whether or not the government should be involved in testing kids' "mental health" at all, especially since mental "disorders" and their expensive drug treatments are such big business these days.  I can see why all different types of political persuasions would be bothered by such control over the mental environment, since whoever controls the diagnostic tests can essentially control the political climate.  

        Who is to say that a kid who doesn't fit in in her classroom is diseased as opposed to simply thinking differently?

        If politicians are concerned with funding for any health issue, it could easily be covered under normal health care insurance.  Why create a seperate fund for testing kids in schools? Especially since kids who are having difficulties would be obvious to most teachers and parents.  It's one thing to test for scoliosis or vision impairments - medical problems that have a proven test for diagnosis - but mental health is a very subjective field (not that long ago people were diagnosed as being posessed by devils when they acted oddly!).  Do we really want our kids being diagnosed with antisocial disorders by a government that supports torture and thinks that dissent is unpatriotic?

        •  I think the funding issue ... (none)
          ... has to do with parents of needy families who cannot afford or whose insurance does not cover psychological testing. I believe in the interests of education, that this service should be available free of charge for families who request it.

          I have a daughter with dyslexia. She definitely "thinks differently". She's brilliant but not "in the normative range" of reading ability. Verbally she can blow most adults away. Her brain is wired differently.

          My husband and I are lucky to have the means to have her privately tested. But as a recourse, needy families should be availed of psychological testing to avoid what I've witnesses in my IDA (International Dyslexia Association) meetings: parents of limited means who come to these meetings when their child is in their teens and who just had a wise teracher/councilor diagnose the problem. It is then too late to address the problem other than to provide a band-aid where the teenage patient is now hemorrhaging.

          The question is not if we should fund psychological testing; the question is how and what options do we give parents. A strictly parental-consent program is the given, whether the parents can designate the psychological evaluator of their choice within a certain price range is the ideal.

          I sympathize with the fear of medication. If I had listened to my school psychologist I would have put my daughter unnecessarily on ritalin. It's not "less" or "no" funding of psychological testing. It's parental choice in that testing. After all, had I not had her tested at all she would fall behind more and more as she got older.

          Don't let the Scientologists and the freepers muddy the waters here.

          "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

          by Glinda on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 07:02:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not a Scientologist or a Freeper. (none)
            I'm a Green.

            And I'm very much against the idea of the government (with their pockets filled with drug industry money) deciding who is and who isn't mentally healthy.  It wouldn't matter to me who was in charge, it's a far too subjective analysis, and it simply doesn't belong in the corporate/political sphere.

            As to your concern for the funding not being available to lower income families, that's exactly my problem with it.  It is the less educated and lower income people who would be victimized if psychological testing were don't in schools.  Say a school told a parent that their child needed medication, because she wasn't doing well in school.  An educated parent might consider other options, or get a second opinion.  While an undereducated parent might not know of other options or be able to afford a second opinion, and they would likely end up doing what they are told by the "professionals," who are probably just parroting the drug companies or, more diabolically, they may have personal agendas of their own.

            What if your child was gay?  Would you want a government analysis to asses your child's "mental health".  What if the prevailing attitude was that being gay was a mental illness (oh wait it is the prevailing attitude!)?  

            As I said before, this isn't a partisan issue, because mental health is subjective.  Anyone who thinks differently is at risk of being labled with a mental illness, no matter what their political leanings are.

            •  But all the information you have (none)
              is from very specious sources: freepers, Scientologists, and right-wing think tanks.

              Sorry I am not convinced this is anything but a right wing attempt to limit funding of mental health initiatives.

              "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

              by Glinda on Wed Dec 22, 2004 at 10:00:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not true. (none)
                Some of my links are from anarchist/progressive websites, like Adbusters.  And I guess you didn't read this PDF which is a whistleblower testamony from an ex-government employee who claims that the TMAP program was paid for (and designed for) by the pharmaceutical companies (and that he was fired for going public with his investigation findings).

                This article is from a lefty/progressive website called Mind Freedom.  It talks about the woman on Bush's National Advisory Council team who is promoting aggressive, non-voluntary psych testing so heavily:


                Dr. Satel works for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is one of the best-funded corporate think tanks in Washington, D.C. AEI is widely acknowledged to have some of the closest ties to the Bush Administration of any think tank, especially to the Cheney's

                Do you honestly think that a program created by Bush would really have the best interests of kids in mind?  Do you think that this is the one instance where he's putting people before profits?

  •  Not entirely an urban myth... (none)
    From http://reliableanswers.com/med/nheld_mental.asp, quoting a homeschooling website (but they have a link to the PDF of the document).

    If you read the New Freedom Commission's goals and recommendations you will see on pages 58-61 that they discuss these key points among others:

       1. "Screen for mental disorders in primary health care, across the life span, and connect to treatment and supports."
       2. "Schools are in a key position to identify mental health problems early and to provide a link to appropriate services... (because) almost one-fifth of the population passes through the Nation's schools on any given weekday."
       3. "Quality screening and early intervention should occur in readily accessible, low-stigma settings such as primary health care facilities and schools..."
       4. Recommendation of early intervention programs such as the "Nurse-Family Partnership... a nurse visits the homes of high-risk women when pregnancy begins, and continues for the first year of the child's life." There is also the Columbia University TeenScreen® Program. Teenscreen works by creating partnerships with schools and communities and helping them to implement their own screening programs to identify at-risk teens and pre-teens. The program is now used in high schools and other settings in 26 states. It was developed under the leadership of David Shaffer, M.D., the Director of the Columbia University's Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

    I'd read about this in mainstream media outlets as well, and it's been a topic of conversation among the psychological community... I wouldn't call this an urban legend but I wouldn't go along with the loudest hype either. Call me suspicious of pretty much anything Bush does...

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