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Oregon Bill Passes. Is It Enough?

Oregon House Bill 3114, after passing unanimously in both House and Senate, goes on to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. This bill, when signed into law, would require an annual review of cases involving children who have been prescribed psychiatric drugs when those children are under the age of 6. This piece of legislature was proposed after an investigation found that Oregon children in foster care were prescribed powerful psychiatric drugs at 4 times the rate of other children on Medicare.

Sen. Alan Bates, an Ashland Democrat and physician, acknowledged that children in foster care often have suffered trauma or emotional problems related to neglect or abuse. While some of these kids may need one or two drugs, Bates said, some of these children have three, four and even five prescriptions.

“We’re going to end that practice,” he said.
Oregon Bill Passes Senate

A Florida law requires parental or court consent before a child may be so drugged. A foster child on psychiatric drugs, Gabriel Myers, committed suicide in that state this spring. His suicide has prompted a Florida investigation.

Advocates and officials in other states should take heed. There can be little question that a much higher percentage of foster children are probably being prescribed these dangerous drugs in their states as well. Foster children need more protection from avaricious and misguided foster parents, doctors, and drug companies. How many Gabriel Myers will it take before this lesson strikes home!?

Before anyone starts jumping up and down with joy over the passage of this bill, let me add a few cautionary notes. Politicians have a way of passing legislation that serves only politicians, and I have a notion that this is another one of those self-serving laws. The Oregon bill falls way short of the kind of legislation that is needed!

This legislation has been drafted to deal with the drug cocktails some of these children have been put on. A drug cocktail is a regimen of more than one psychiatric drug used in the treating of the emotional disturbance some troubled people are thought to have. Drug cocktails have been shown to have the least promising results of any type of treatment given. The fact is, these combinations of drugs have been shown to be more likely to do harm to the person taking them, and to prevent any real improvement on the path of recovery, than they are likely to do any good.

Although what I was saying above pertains to adults as much as to children, what follows pertains to children. The age of consent is not 7 years old! A 7 year old child is not an adult!What happens when the child turns 7 years olds? Drug cocktails are OKay then? Of course, not! We need stronger and more far reaching legislation if it is to do anything at all. These children are children, and they should have adequate protection until such time as they turn 21 years of age, and that is not what is happening here.

There was a time, not that long ago, when children were relatively safe from psychiatric labels, and the effects of psychiatric drugs that went along with treatment. That time has passed. If children are to be protected from a lifetime of invalidation within the mental health system, then the younger they are protected, the better. Part of this protection should involve parental consent, and part of this protection should involve not having any safe guards that are put in place apply merely to children under the age of 6 or 7.