A Declaration Of Refusal To Comply With Any New Freedom Commission Mandate For Universal Mental Health Screening Of Children In The Schools

September 13, 2004 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Our declaration of refusal is a vigorous response to and rejection of the recommendations of the President's New Freedom Commission on mental health policy in the United States, a health policy that would mandate virtually universal mental health screening, including the 52 million children and 6 million adults in the public schools. We prefer to call it the "New Intrusion Commission." Its recommendations are a direct assault on child and family privacy, and a real threat to our children's well-being. Already, about 9 million school age children are on very dangerous psychotropic drugs, all for alleged "mental illnesses" like so-called ADHD, none of which have been validated as real diseases by scientific medicine. The New Freedom Commission wants to even more vigorously pursue the labeling and drugging of our children, by screening ALL children and adults in the public schools (and elsewhere) for signs of possible "mental illness." This really means they are actively pursuing an expansion of the child market for psychiatric pharmaceuticals.

This declaration will be used in our effort to halt the policy recommendations of the New Freedom Commission. We invite all concerned citizens to sign on to this declaration and defend our space to allow our children to grow and learn without labels and drugs, and to make parenting decisions without pressure from various governmental agents.

The New Freedom Commission report states that "Schools are in a key position to identify mental health problems early, and to provide a link to appropriate services.' We know that many of the New Freedom commissioners are linked directly or indirectly to the Texas Medical Algorithm Project (TMAP), which provides formulas recommending specific psychotropic drugs to treat various "mental illnesses.' According to whistleblower reports, TMAP pushes an off-label drug marketing scheme that appears to skirt federal law. We know, therefore, that this commission's recommendations are intended to encourage an expansion of the fact that "appropriate services' in today's psychiatric world means psychotropic drugs, and that there are already an estimated 9-million school-age children on psychiatric drugs. We consider this to represent a tragic situation, and a clear and present danger to our children.

This extraordinary intrusion of psychiatry into our schools shows a blatant disregard of the public will, as demonstrated in the first four years of this millennium by a number of resolutions, education department statements and state laws, all defending a parent's right to make treatment decisions for a child without coercion, and a child's right to education without psychiatric labeling and drugs. Through 2003, there have been at least 46 state bills or resolutions supporting parental choice, in 28 states, that have either passed, or are still pending action, across the United States.

We ask that our legislators and educational leaders discard the New Freedom Commission recommendations of extraordinary intrusion of psychiatry into our schools, and refocus on authentic education.

We object to the New Freedom Commission recommendations for many reasons; these include scientific, legal, and moral or philosophic objections.

Scientifically, we are aware that the Commission report is based on the same pseudoscience that has already resulted in the psychiatric drugging of an estimate 9 million school-age children, over 15% of our young people. The two most important scientific objections are:

1. No children's behavioral problem routinely seen by a psychiatrist or other physician has been scientifically demonstrated to be of biological or genetic causation. There is no objective test, no confirmatory physical or chemical abnormality—for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, or any of the other childhood diagnoses popular among psychiatrists. These diagnoses are wholly subjective, based on judgments of what is and isn't normal behavior.

2. Psychiatric drugs are dangerous: they are toxic and potentially lethal. There were 186 Ritalin-related heart deaths reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the 1990s. Because the system of reporting is voluntary, experts believe that this figure represents only 1-10 percent of the actual number of deaths. In other words, from this one drug alone, during a ten-year period, there were 1,800 to 18,000 deaths. In addition, because of evidence indicating their potential for inducing suicidal thinking and behavior in children, the United Kingdom has banned, for children, the use of all but one of the antidepressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI's such as Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Effexor and Remeron). The FDA is investigating the matter.

Legally, we strongly insist on two revered concepts in United States law, the doctrines of informed consent and the right to privacy. The doctrine of informed consent must be interpreted to mean that parents have a legal right to sufficient information necessary to make a fully informed choice on behalf of their children. Any mandatory mental health screening is a gross violation. The right to privacy is a fundamental American value; we see mandatory mental health screening as direct violation of a liberty interest under Fourteenth Amendment due process rights.

We consider New Freedom recommendations to be a serious threat not only to our educational system, but most importantly to the development and well-being of our children. Therefore, we insist that any New Freedom Commission policy recommendations that put our children at risk for unwarranted intrusion, labeling and psychiatric drugging be immediately discarded.

The Declaration of Refusal may be viewed at http://www.ablechild.org/declaration%20of%20refusal.aspx. Please join us as we solemnly declare that we will not allow our children to be the subjects of any form of implementation of New Freedom Commission recommendations to screen our children for signs of "mental illness.'