Congressional Control of Health Care is Dangerous for Children
This week Congress is again grasping for more control over the health
of American children with the expansion of the State Children's Health
Insurance Program (SCHIP). Parents who think federally subsidized
health care might be a good idea should be careful what they wish for.
Despite political rhetoric about a War on Drugs, federally-funded
programs result in far more teenage drug use than the most successful
pill pusher on the playground. These pills are given out as a result of
dubious universal mental health screening programs for school children,
supposedly directed toward finding mental disorders or suicidal
tendencies. The use of antipsychotic medication in children has
increased fivefold between 1995 and 2002. More than 2.5 million
children are now taking these medications, and many children are taking
multiple drugs at one time.
With universal mental health screening being implemented in schools,
pharmaceutical companies stand to increase their customer base even
more, and many parents are rightfully concerned. Opponents of one such
program called TeenScreen, claim it wrongly diagnoses children as much
as 84% of the time, often incorrectly labeling them, resulting in the
assigning of medications that can be very damaging. While we are still
awaiting evidence that there are benefits to mental health screening
programs, evidence that these drugs actually cause violent psychotic
episodes is mounting.
Many parents have very valid concerns about the drugs to which a child
labeled as "suicidal" or "depressed," or even ADHD, could be subjected.
Of further concern is the subjectivity of diagnosis of mental health
disorders. The symptoms of ADHD are strikingly similar to indications
that a child is gifted, and bored in an unchallenging classroom. In
fact, these programs, and many of the syndromes they attempt to screen
for, are highly questionable. Parents are wise to question them.
As it stands now, parental consent is required for these screening
programs, but in some cases mere passive consent is legal. Passive
consent is obtained when a parent receives a consent form and fails to
object to the screening. In other words, failure to reply is considered
affirmative consent. In fact, TeenScreen advocates incorporating their
program into the curriculum as a way to by-pass any consent
requirement. These universal, or mandatory, screening programs being
called for by TeenScreen and the New Freedom Commission on Mental
Health should be resisted.
Consent must be express, written, voluntary and informed. Programs that
refuse to give parents this amount of respect, should not receive
federal funding. Moreover, parents should not be pressured into
screening or drugging their children with the threat that not doing so
constitutes child abuse or neglect. My bill, The Parental Consent Act
of 2007 is aimed at stopping federal funding of these programs.
We don't need a village, a bureaucrat, or the pharmaceutical industry
raising our children. That's what parents need to be doing.
To write your representatives about this bill go to
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