About that "zero drug tolerance" policy in our schools: Does it really mean what it says? Or would it come closer to the truth for school administrators to admit what they really oppose are pushers offering competing consciousness-altering substances?
Do our public schools today constitute a kind of official, tax-supported dope monopoly which will even threaten to take children away from parents should they refuse to go along with the mind-numbing nostrums which our schoolmasters themselves now press on nearly a quarter of our young boys, the better to keep those valuable butts planted in their seats?
The Albany Times Union, in a May 7, 2000 copyrighted story, tells what happened to parents Michael and Jill Carroll of Albany, New York, when they tried to take their son, 7-year-old Kyle, off the Ritalin.
Kyle Carroll was first prescribed Ritalin last year, after he fell behind at school. Teachers drew up an Individualized Education Plan, a standard course of action for children with "special needs." But last fall, when Kyle started second grade, the Ritalin didn't seem to be doing much good. Furthermore, the Carrolls grew concerned that Kyle was only sleeping about five hours a night and eating just one meal a day --- lunch. So they told school officials they wanted to take Kyle off the Ritalin for two weeks to see if that helped. 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? "Child abuse," in the form of "medical neglect." In plain English? Expressing doubts about keeping their child on dope.
As a result, the Times Union 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."
The child remains on the medication, "in part because they fear child welfare workers will take him away if they don't," the Albany daily reports.
Furthermore, the Albany paper found the Carrolls' case is far from unique, reporting: "Public schools are increasingly accusing parents of child abuse and neglect if they balk at giving their children medication such as Ritalin, a stimulant being prescribed to more and more students."
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports as many as 3.8 million schoolchildren, mostly boys, have now been diagnosed with the newly-coined "ADHD" --- attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder --- a psychiatric "disease" with symptoms to which most of our grandparents would have responded by simply smiling: "Boys will be boys." Or perhaps by asking, "Could it be that he finds your school boring? Does it really make sense to spend three or four years teaching reading, a skill easily mastered in six weeks if you'd just use phonics?"
At least a million children now take Ritalin for this "disorder." In two school districts near Virginia Beach, Virginia, for instance, a 1999 study by psychologist Gretchen LeFever found fully 20 percent of white boys in the fifth grade in the 1995-1996 school year were receiving prescription drugs for ADHD. And even the AAP acknowledged in a recent study that many cases are misdiagnosed.
"This thing is so scary," says Patricia Weathers, of Millbrook, a suburb of Poughkeepsie, New York. Officials at the Millbrook school district called police and child protective services when she took her 9-year-old son, Michael Mozer, off medications earlier last year.
Weathers reported her child's prescribed drug cocktail --- including Ritalin, the anti-depressant Paxil, and Dexedrine (another stimulant, like Ritalin) caused her boy --- now attending a private school --- to hallucinate.
"Absent evidence that the lives of children are at stake when they're not on Ritalin," USA Today editorialized, "no arm of the state should be ramming the drug treatment down parents' --- and children's --- throats."
Amen to that. The underlying problem here is the notion that children belong first to the state --- that they're best "socialized" in state-run institutions, and that biological parents are allowed to retain custody only at the discretion of school and "child welfare" officials, who after all have "professional diplomas," and thus "know best."
No free country can long operate under such a presumption, with its inevitable corrosive effect on the family. And this --- at least as much as the corresponding academic failures of the public schools --- is what drives the large and growing movement for separation of school and state. (See: www.sepschool.org)
Mr. Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His e-mail is email@example.com.
This article was published in the Medical Sentinel 2001;6(1):31. Copyright©2001, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).