Drugging Our Children to Death

January 2, 2003

By Tom DeWeese

The new year calls to us to save the many children in our nation’s schools who will be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and prescribed mind-altering drugs. This evil grows exponentially and, with it, the tragedies whose stories are rising to the surface of public notice.

This pseudo-psychological racket is big business. Sales of pharmaceuticals to treat DHD snowballed to $758 million in the year 2000, and show no signs of slowing down. However, more and more parents are growing skeptical of the diagnoses and subsequent coercive drugging of their children. Spurred by tragedy, some are fighting back.

Lawrence Smith of Michigan and Vicky Dunkle of Pennsylvania both tragically lost their children to psychiatric drugs prescribed to treat their ADHD. Mr. Smith’s 14-year-old son, Matthew died of a heart attack he had while skateboarding. The coroner determined his death was caused by the long-term use of a stimulant that had been forcibly prescribed to him through his school. Early last year, Mrs. Dunkle’s daughter, Shaina, died in her mother’s arms after convulsing in her doctor’s office. She was just 10 years old.

Lawrence and Vicky, bonded by common tragedy, are fighting back. They are determined to expose the fraud surrounding ADHD and the forced drugging of normal children. The problems started for both parents when they were approached by school social workers and psychologists. They were told that their children were “too active,” “easily distracted,” and that they “talked out of turn.” Lawrence and Vicky shrugged off these diagnoses as simplynormal traits of energetic youngsters.

Then came the iron fist of government.

Smith was told: “…if we didn’t consider drugging our son after the school had diagnosed him with ADHD that we could be charged for neglecting his educational and emotional needs. If we hadn’t been pressured by the school system, Matthew would still be alive today.” Mrs. Dunkle agrees. “If I had followed my heart instead of the advice of ‘professionals’ that thought they knew my daughter better than I did, my precious Shaina would be alive now.”

What is going on here? Since when did government schools get in the business of forcing mind-altering drugs on children against their parent’s will?

In 1965, the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), changed education forever as the seeds for today’s massive restructuring-away from academics and toward behavior modification-began. It was psychology’s crowning moment. The ESEA allocated massive federal funds and opened school doors to a flood of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and the psychiatric programs and testing needed to validate them. The number of educational psychologists in the U.S. increased from 455 in 1969 to 16,146 by 1992. As of 1994, child psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and special educators in and around U.S. public schools nearly outnumber teachers.

In 1991, eligibility rules for federal education grants were changed to provide schools with $400 in annual grant money for each child diagnosed with ADHD. That same year the Department of Education formally recognized ADHD as a handicap and directed all state education officers to establish procedures to screen and identify ADHD children and provide them with special education and psychological services. As a result, the number of ADHD cases soared again.

Today more than 7,000,000 children have been labeled and registered as permanent patients of the school system. Ten to twelve percent of all boys between the ages of 6 and 14 in the United States have been diagnosed as having ADHD. One in every 30 Americans between the ages of 5 and 19 years old has a prescription to Ritalin. Psychologists have never had it so good. The federal trough has been very good for their industry.

With more than half of those 7,000,000 children also prescribed Ritalin, the stock-market value of its manufacturer, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, has also soared. Now that company and others are working to introduce a host of new drugs into the classroom, including Prozac and Luvox, which has just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for pediatric use.

The industry is looking to even greater growth as the pill brigade is targeting pre-school toddlers. The use of psychotropic drugs, like anti-depressants and stimulants, in two to four year olds more than doubled between 1991 and 1995. The federal trough has been very good to the pharmaceutical industry as well.

As this sickening practice goes unchecked and unquestioned more children are being drugged into a mind-numbing stupor, deteriorating under the long-term effects of their prescriptions. In the worst cases, children are dying.

Tom DeWeese
[email protected]

Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.