Stars Shine for Human Rights
Hollywood celebrities back parents’ fight to stop child-drugging
With increasing numbers of states introducing laws to prohibit schools from pressuring parents to comply with psychiatric drug treatment, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International awards those individuals who helped pave the way for sweeping reform
Italian jazz diva Elena Roggero opened the Citizens Commission on Human Rights 34th Anniversary celebration with “If You Believe”.
They watched with quiet dignity as stories of personal and family tragedy were told from the stage: One woman’s 10-year-old daughter who was put on powerful psychiatric drugs later died in her mother’s arms as a result of complications brought on by the drugs she was being given.
A father’s 14-year-old son died of a heart attack, brought on by long-term use of Ritalin.
Another couple, lost their son when the boy, suffering withdrawal after being taken off psychiatric drugs he was being given in school, committed suicide.
These parents were among the nearly 800 lawmakers, dignitaries, government representatives and celebrities who gathered at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on February 15th to attend the Citizens Commission on Human Rights 34th Anniversary and Human Rights Awards celebration.
Actress Priscilla Presley paid tribute to Human Rights Award recipient Lawrence Smith (top) who, after the tragic death of his son, Mathew (bottom left), Shaina Dunkel (bottom right) and others, has led the fight against psychiatric drugging of schoolchildren. “Kingpin” star Eduardo Palomo (center) brings the message home to viewers of Mexico’s TV Azteca.
Hollywood actors Anne Archer, Priscilla Presley, Gina St. John, Juliette Lewis and Eduardo Palomo were on hand to present CCHR’s Human Rights Awards to parents and individuals who fight ceaselessly to expose the mounting pressure schools are placing on families to accede to the psychiatric drugging of their children.
The celebrities came not only to present the awards, but lend their support to those with the courage to take a stand against child-drugging.
“You have parents who are losing the right to choose how they want to help solve their children’s problems,” said Juliette Lewis. “I’m here to lend my support, bring attention to this cause and let people know that Americans are losing their right to choose.”
“It’s just amazing to me that we would ever consider giving a psychotropic drug to a child because of the kind of behavior problems they are talking about, which are just part of normal childhood,” said Anne Archer. “And there are so many other solutions to the problem. We need to continue to educate parents about that because it is way out of control.”
“A Battle for Life”
Also among attendees were doctors, politicians, human rights and parent groups who are working directly with CCHR on legislative measures to end the unbridled and coercive drugging of school-aged children.
“CCHR is such a support group for those of us who are trying to prevent the drugging of our children,” said Cynthia Theilan, State Representative for Hawaii, in an interview with Freedom. “Without them we would be at a loss and it would be a tragic situation for America’s children. It is a big battle, a battle for the lives and health of our children and we all have to work together.”
“I’ve been involved with child protective services, primarily the state’s involvement with child removal and then what takes place with children after they are removed,” said former Utah State Representative Matt Throckmorten. “CCHR has actually been a great source of information on the problems we run into.
“All too often, we see children removed, when it’s questionable whether they should be removed or not,” he continued. “Then unfortunately they are put on Ritalin or Prozac. That’s the end result of the process. Most people aren’t aware of this, so education is extremely important and that’s where CCHR comes into play.”
“Parents are devastated by the fact they never even knew the level of the treatment risks involved. Too late, many have asked that one question that continues to haunt them: ‘Why wasn’t I warned?’”
— Priscilla Presley
One of the strongest critics of the psychiatric abuse of children is Beth Clay, Chief Assistant to Congressman Dan Burton, who last year chaired congressional hearings into the drugging of children.
“It’s amazing how few people in this country and around the world understand how young and how often children are being given Schedule II psychotropic drugs,” said Clay. “We learned through a publication by the Journal of the American Medical Association that children as young as two and under were being prescribed psychotropic drugs for attention deficit and hyperactive disorder.
“These are children in financially challenged homes and they are being abused by being given drugs that will harm the developing brain,” she said. “So CCHR has done a tremendous job getting the word out about these drugs.”
States Pass Legislation
Reports of parents being threatened with medical neglect or child expulsion prompted several states in the past year to enact state laws prohibiting school personnel from recommending psychiatric drugs and reinforcing a parent’s right to refuse drug treatment. Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota and Virginia have, in the past two years, passed such laws.
Above left: Texas psychologist/author John Breeding was recognized for his groundbreaking efforts on behalf of legislation that upholds parent’s rights to refuse psychiatric drugging of their children. Following suit are legislators and their aides who are advancing such laws at state and federal levels: Clockwise from upper right, Beth Clay, aide to House Government Reform Chairman Dan Burton (R-IN), California State Rep. Ray Haynes, Hawaii State Rep. Cynthia Thielen and National Foundation of Women Legislators President, Rep. Robin Reed.
“In spite of the millions of American children taking stimulants or antidepressants, alarm bells now ring loudly in homes, schools and communities from coast to coast,” President of CCHR International, Jan Eastgate told the audience. “In fact, it is now an international campaign that has reached critical mass.
“And in just the last three months, another 12 states, including Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia, have introduced another 22 measures that will put an end to enforced psychiatric assessment and drug treatment in schools,” she said.
Such legislation is a direct result of the work done by outspoken critics of psychiatric drugging, such as author Dr. John Breeding, the first human rights awardee of the evening. Dr. Breeding was recognized for his work with the Texas State Board of Education, and the subsequent passage of their resolution recommending that schools use non-drug solutions for problems of attention and learning. His highly acclaimed book, The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses, exposes the complete lack of science behind child psychiatric disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and is changing the way parents view child drugging.
Accepting his award, Dr. Breeding, called upon concerned parents to join him in the battle against the psychiatric drugging of children and acknowledged CCHR for its ongoing support. “I have a message for all of you here today and for those who will later hear or read these words, and it is this: We are here to help you. We have the professionals... who can and will speak out. We have this awesome organization called the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. What I am saying to any and all of you who are ready to act is this: we are here to help you and assist you in passing legislation, in pursuing litigation, or in simply defending yourself against coercion. You step out and we will be beside you and behind you. Let’s get it going.”
Cleaning up Psychiatric Snake Pits
The evening’s second award was presented to Dr. Giorgio Antonucci for his work to reform psychiatric hospitals in Italy’s institutional snake pits of human degradation that have housed hundreds of abused and neglected patients.
Above: Many of the hundreds of people whose lives were salvaged by the drug-free humanitarian works of Italy’s Dr. Giorgio Antonucci (left, center) congratulated by actor and translator Francesco Quinn (left) and his presenter, Academy Award nominee Juliette Lewis.
In presenting Dr. Antonucci’s award, actress Juliette Lewis called his actions “heroic.”
“He dedicated himself to working with individuals with severe personal problems,” she said. “His work inevitably led him to Italy’s notorious asylums, infamous for their concentration camp-like conditions. Here he found three ‘choices’ of treatment: electroshock, insulin shock or heavy drugs.
“However, unlike the psychiatrists in these institutions, this compassionate medical doctor believed that communication could heal even the most seriously disturbed mind. He opposed enforced incarceration and inhumane physical treatments, and favored a system based on the voluntary comings and goings of patients.”
At the asylum in Imola, Dr. Antonucci volunteered to run Unit 14, the most dangerous ward. There, 44 schizophrenic women, most of who had been incarcerated for many years, were so seriously disturbed they had been strapped to their beds — some for up to 20 years. Working sometimes 24 hours a day, and ignoring the protests of nurses, Dr. Antonucci began to release the women from their confinement. He spent many, many hours each day talking with them and penetrating their deliriums and anguish.
After a few months, his ‘dangerous’ patients were all free and able to walk — and to begin life again.
“In fact,” said Lewis, “it was not possible to distinguish a former patient from a nurse.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Dr. Antonucci promised to continue to dedicate himself to ending the abusive and destructive practices of psychiatry, acknowledging CCHR for their help, dedication and strong support.
Protecting the Lives of Children
Actor Eduardo Palomo presented the evening’s third award to Ricardo Rocha, Mexico’s leading television journalist. Rocha’s TV documentary on child-drugging exposed the massive increases in stimulant sales in Mexico. Rocha estimated that up to 15% of Mexico’s children were being prescribed psychiatric drugs. Stimulant sales had increased from $320,000 in 1993 to nearly $3 million in 1998. In the United States, an estimated eight million children are on either stimulant or antidepressant drugs, generating more than $1 billion in annual sales.
VIVA LOS NINOS DE MEXICO: CCHR President Jan Eastgate and renowned actor-entertainer Eduardo Palomo (right) congratulate Human Rights Awardee Ricardo Rocha, whose TV Azteca exposés have spurred legislative action to end abusive and deadly child-drugging in Mexico. Rocha pays visit to CCHR International’s human rights exhibit at its headquarters in Hollywood.
“For the first time, a major Mexican television show reaching more than 25 million people alerted officials, schools and other media to the dangers of psychiatric drugging of children,” Palomo told the audience. “As a result, school leaders, local council authorities and legislators have contacted CCHR for more information.”
The documentary prompted progress toward legislative action, says Palomo, who introduced Senator Benjamin Ayala Velazquez, an original sponsor of child protection laws which, similar to those in the U.S., shield children from abuses such as those exposed by Rocha.
“I accept this award with emotion and in the name of my colleagues at Report 13 and TV Azteca,” said Rocha in accepting his award, “sharing with all of you the same principles that inspire our job: love, respect, dignity and tolerance.”
One of the evening’s most compelling speakers was another nationally renowned investigative journalist, Kelly O’Meara of Insight magazine, who has written numerous exposés on the subject of psychiatric drugging of children.
“As a journalist, I feel this is a vital issue that must be reported on. Children are routinely being given harmful drugs as the ‘solution’ to so-called learning disorders,” O’Meara told Freedom. “Psychiatrists are hard pressed to prove that such learning disorders even exist. So for me, it is vital that we warn parents there are alternatives to being forced to destroy their children with psychiatric drugs in the name of ‘education.’”
The final presentation of the evening was a special tribute to the parents and families of children who died as a tragic result of being placed on Ritalin or other dangerous psychiatric drugs.
“The stories of parents who unwittingly gambled by trusting psychiatry with the lives of their children are tragic,” said Priscilla Presley, who introduced the riveting tribute. “Far too many have learned too late that psychiatric drugs and ‘treatments’ are literally a game of Russian Roulette. At stake is the life of a child.
“Parents are devastated by the fact they never even knew the level of the treatment risks involved. Too late, many have asked that one question that continues to haunt them: ‘Why wasn’t I warned?’” said Presley.
“Imagine for a moment being a parent who is told that your seven-year-old son is very ill and suffering,” she told the audience. “So ill that he needs medication to be able to learn, to be able to survive.
“What I am saying to any and all of you who are ready to act is this: we are here to help you and assist you in passing legislation, in pursuing litigation, or in simply defending yourself against coercion. You step out and we will be beside you and behind you.”
— Dr. John Breeding
“You are told not to worry. The medication is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and six million other children are taking it. You have no cause to be alarmed. These are authorities: teachers, doctors, ‘experts’ whom you trust, all telling you that the medication is completely ‘safe and effective’ so ‘give your son a chance.’
“Now imagine hearing the news that your son just died. Suddenly, inexplicably, while skateboarding. And then the coroner tells you that the experts you trusted lied. The ‘medication’ you were forced to put your son on is really a drug that, over the years, has enlarged his heart, killing him.”
Presley then presented a special Human Rights Award to the father of the boy she had just described — Lawrence Smith, an outspoken critic of the pressure schools bring to bear on parents to drug their children.
Personal Tragedy Sparks Hope for Others
Today advocating parents rights via his website www.RitalinDeath.com, Smith has become a leading vehicle for parental interaction with others who oppose drug treatments and for the promotion of other options for dealing with problems of learning and attention. Smith has traveled to Washington, D.C. to educate members of Congress on the issue, and has appeared on the CBS Evening News, The Today Show, and Court TV.
“It has been such an honor to work with the Citizens Commission on Human Rights,” Smith told the audience as he accepted his award. “I am so grateful for this organization and everyone here tonight involved in exposing child psychiatry for what it really is — deadly!
“CCHR’s support has made it possible for me to meet with and tell my son’s tragic story to members of Congress, state legislators and the U.S. Department of Justice,” he continued. “After all, with psychiatrists ignoring the medical examiner’s damning and irrefutable evidence, we can only turn to our courts and legislators to provide the protection that psychiatry won’t.
“My hope is to save other children from psychiatry’s subjective labels and their drugs. I work with a sense of urgency to accomplish this mission and the reason is simple: I will do whatever it takes to ensure that no other family will ever lose a child to psychiatry.
“I cannot think of a better cause in the world.”