Monkey Business As Usual for the DCF, or the statistics speak for themselves

There is an interesting article that just came out from Daytona Beach on the drugging of foster children in Florida situation. This article entitled, Child’s suicide raises medication questions, is interesting for a number of reasons. A couple of critics of over-prescribing are allowed to voice their concerns in this article. This is relatively new. Usually it’s been only the voice of the agency and its cronies speaking. Statistics regarding one community’s institution in particular are revealed in this article. You can also get a grasp, reading between the lines, on how big a problem we face.

The secretary of the Department of Children & Families, George Sheldon, is up to his usual shenanigans.

“I’m not anti-medication, but I think it is a last resort,” Sheldon said.

(Note: I’ve heard him say the same thing, word for word, before.)

The issue in Florida is one of over-prescribing. Over-prescribing takes place when psychiatric drugs are not used as ‘a last resort’. Certain parties within the DCF seem to want to make this a procedural matter, but it is not a procedural matter. It’s a statistical matter. Drug fewer foster children in the future than you have been in the past, and you are doing something about it. It’s not about how the drugs are administered; it’s about how many children are prescribed drugs.

I feel the focus of the efforts being made to correct the situation here are often getting lost, and that the efforts being made are such as to try the show the department in a good light at the expense of the children of Florida. Just to illustrate, using stats from the article itself, It was 2005 when the law was changed, now look at the stats as of then. In 2005/2006, 289 children are admitted under the Baker Act to Halifax Behavioral Services; in 2008/2009, this figure is up to 845 children. What’s going on here? I think the mental health authorities are going, well, we don’t want any foster children drugged voluntarily anymore, if that’s the problem, so we’re going to drug them involuntarily. All the papers will be taken care of then, consent forms and so forth, we aren’t breaking the laws enacted in 2005, and so who’s to complain.

You’re drugged children rate almost tripled during this time. Obviously the problem of over-diagnosing and over-prescribing to foster children is not being handled in an effective manner. The illusion is that this is about children who are a danger to themselves and others. Hello? There aren’t that many dangerous children in the entire United States! When researchers begin to look at the ratio of foster children to children in the general population, this disparity we started out with is likely to show a dramatic increase.

What if another child dies? Maybe we can confuse people. Alright, we’ve been given a task to do, yippee! Let’s do the opposite…again.

2 Responses

  1. It’s not ‘overmedication’…. it’s needless, senseless drugging, tranquilization of kids…nothing more. To use the phrase ‘overmedication’ insinuates that if it were not ‘overdone’ that there would be instances where it is appropriate to drug and alter a child’s growing brain that has never been proven diseased. THEY want you to use the word ‘medication’…. because, if this wanton tranquilization is done under a medical rubric, it sounds justified, which it isn’t.

    The act of stabbing an animal in a zoo with a tranquilizer dart is not a ‘medical act’ any more than forcing a child to take a tranquilizer drug is a ‘medical act’… it’s merely social engineering, brutal deletion of a human being’s consciousness to serve the ends of others who have decided a behavior is a problem, and have decided the human right of bodily integrity ought not apply to all humans.

    Using the word ‘overmedication’…. is giving a pass to the shrinks, suggesting it would all be fine if they only cut back and went all ‘last resort’…. which I find unacceptable.

    Any alteration of a young child’s brain by its guardians, be it the state or the parents, in the absence of proven brain disease, is a human rights breach and the child, if it lives long enough, will be damn angry when it finds out the reckless risks taken with its never proven diseased biology….

    Why the use of these words… ‘over diagnosing’… ‘over-prescribing’…?… it’s ludicrous. If there is real disease, there can be no over-diagnosing… and since there is no real disease, there can be no under-diagnosing or over-diagnosing because the act of needlessly medicalizing an orphan’s distress is just a total joke.

    • I may agree with you, but this is a matter of pragmatism and realpolitik. If I were in a state, for instance, that had no outpatient commitment laws, in the present climate, and I were to argue to keep outpatient commitment laws out of the state, I might have some success. I’m not going to get anywhere though arguing for throwing out civil commitment laws entirely.

      If I made the argument in Tallahassee, the Florida state capitol, that no kids should be drugged, nobody is going to listen to me. We’re are dealing with state representatives who are responding to pressure from the DCF, and from forced treatment groups such as NAMI and the Treatment Advocacy Center. When foster children are being drugged at a higher rate than other children, as is the case, then I have an argument that they will have to acknowledge. Then I have an argument that demands a response from them.

      In this situation, I might be able to bring down the rate of child drugging, but I am not going to be able to end child drugging entirely–not any time soon, that’s realism. The rate of child drugging is on the incline, and it isn’t decreasing, and so it is important to apply pressure on these politicians. In this fashion, we can lessen the harm being done even if we can’t end it. Ask them to end drugging entirely, and you will only be wasting your time talking to deaf ears.

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