'Drug Them or Lose Them'
California State Assemblyman
We tell our children "Just say no to drugs." Then, when one of them starts misbehaving, school authorities tell us, "Drug him or lose him."
As a result, parents are being forced to administer powerful, mind-altering drugs to their children or risk having them taken away by Child Protective Services. That's hypocritical, outrageous and, most of all, dangerous.
There is no scientific proof that these drugs are effective in children and there is much evidence that they do more harm than good. Always in the background lurks the danger of suicide. Finally, after years of complaints from parents, the federal Food and Drug Administration has faced the facts. It ordered the manufacturers of these drugs to include "black box" warnings — the highest level of FDA warnings — that they could cause children to kill themselves.
Twice I have written bills that would save parents from facing the awful choice of either drugging their children with dangerous psychotropic medications or losing them to the state. I have also written two bills that would require the investigation of the forced drugging of some of the most defenseless among us, foster children. All four bills died at the extended hands of vested interests in the legislature that care nothing about the rights of parents or the welfare of foster children.
A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in February 2000 reported that the number of prescriptions for mind-altering antidepressants was soaring. The total hit more than 15 million three years later, even though the study in JAMA reported no evidence that they were safe or effective. Those facts had no impact on many teachers, doctors and social workers. Confronted with "problem children," they continued to take the easy way out — the forced psychotropic drugging of children.
It's not easy for parents or children. Many parents — myself included — have seen disturbing personality changes when our children have been subjected to these drugs. Fortunately, I was able to rescue my son before any long-term damage was done. Many other families have seen much worse. Some have fled the country; others have gone to jail. They have been falsely labeled as child abusers and have had their children institutionalized.
In one case, parents saw their seven-year-old son going sleepless and losing his appetite after he began taking one of these drugs. They tried to take him off the medication and found themselves identified as child abusers. In order to keep their son, they were forced to agree to drug him.
Another parent sent her daughter out of the country to protect the child from these drugs. Once she was off drugs, the child blossomed.
Defenseless foster children are also at risk. In Florida, an independent study of 1,180 foster children showed that more than 600, including 34 under six years old, were on psychotropic drugs — nearly half of them without a medical examination. In spite of these facts, the California Legislature refused to pass two of my bills that would have authorized a study of the forced drugging of foster children here.
This is an unequal battle. On one side are individual families and foster children; on the other, the powerful psychiatric and educational establishments, aided by duped legislators. But it is a battle worth fighting. I know. I have fought it myself, and I will continue to fight it on behalf of other families.