Florida Politicians Failing To Protect Children In Foster Care

The story is found in Post On Politics, the heading reads, House won’t make it harder for state to put foster kids on psych drugs. Although Florida Senator Ronda Storms has a bill before the Florida Senate that would make it harder to drug children in Florida’s foster care system, the bill is given little chance of passing.

The Senate Health Regulation Committee unanimously approved Storms’ measure (SB 1808) and sent it on its way to its final committee this afternoon. But the House has yet to hear a similar proposal and, with the 2012 session midpoint approaching, appears unlikely to budge.

As should be apparent, Senator Storm has very good reason to sponsor a bill to protect children in foster care in her state.

Storms’ launched her psychotropic drug crusade after the 2009 death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers, a Broward County foster child who hanged himself while under the influence of several psychiatric drugs. Storms’ bill includes many of the recommendations given by a Department of Children and Families workgroup in the aftermath of Myers’ death.

When the DCF, the state’s mental health agency, is also behind this bill, the culprit in this aiding and abetting of murder must be politicians and the drug companies that are pulling their strings.

Improved protocol monitoring by the DCF has managed to bring down the amount of psychiatric drug use among foster children by 10 %. The question is how long will this improvement last. Without a legal mandate to insure the protection of children, this kind of monitoring could be suspended at any time.

One of the commenters, Sheila Hollowell, left a comment under this report that speaks directly to the problem of the over drugging of children in foster care.

I am the grandparent given custody of a biological grandchild lost to our family after being kidnapped by her biological father years ago. This foster child had 23 various diagnoses and was on 17 psychotropic drugs. She was also locked away in a psychiatric/therapeutic facility. We fought endlessly with a plethora of workers and finally refused all drugs even though they demanded we do so. Today she is in junior college with no diagnosis of anything wrong with her. Her reading level went from 1st grade to 6 grade within 6 months after quitting the mind stewing drugs. The biggest problems in this kid’s life is what the ridiculous foster system continues to do to her.

Gabriel Myers’ death was not the first death that brought the situation of children in foster care to the attention of Florida’s law makers. Now it looks like we will have to wait for another child to die before they act. This kind of negligence on the part of our law makers is absolutely outrageous. Florida residents are encouraged to call their area representatives today, and to ask them to vote in favor of making it harder to drug children in foster care.

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14 Responses

  1. Crickets.

    Sure. There would be less pain suffered by innocents if there were more people like you, me and Sheila Hollowell.

    I suggest a two pronged approach. (I’ve been wanting to write “two pronged” for a while.
    1. Encourage like minded people.
    2. Kill shrinks.

    More seriously (so prong 2 might be excused as nothing more than a thought experiment) I find that I’m becoming less able to take the subject seriously. But they’re not funny either. These people are pathetic, sexually unattractive and boring.

    • I can see prong 1. I value my freedom a little too much to seriously consider prong 2.

      3 prong approaches are often the way to go. 3 is not too many, and not too few. Suggested 3 prong approach.

      1. Gather like minded people
      2. Work to influence the general public, and then politicians.
      3. Don’t give up until you’ve achieved your goals.

      Anyway, it may be like tiny David aiming that pebble at gargantuan Goliath, but I figure it’s worth a shot.

  2. Is this a private club or can anyone join?!

    The first prong works, but remember that “like minded” is not necessarily going to be exact minded.

    Rod, I think you could argue justifiable homicide for your second prong.

    MFV, working to influence the public is something I have been thinking about. Has there ever been a really good documentary about this, do you know? Completely from the patients’ point of view, without selective editing? You seem to me to be well-connected with ex-patients; would you say that is the case?

    I am just writing this as I think and I am thinking parents. I think they would be shocked to learn what is going on – how drug companies are targeting children; infiltrating the APA and making up new conditions so that insurance companies will pay for the drugs they are pushing. It is shocking. Oppositional Defiant Disorder is my personal bugbear. Drugging children for being children. Nice. Who regulates these people?

    • We’re no exclusive club here. Your comments are very welcome.

      I think there is probably more literature from “the patients’ point of view” than film. If you mean amateur film, You Tube has the opinions of scores and scores of people impacted by the mental health system in one form or another. As for “patients’ point of view”, there are differences of opinion there, too, and some patients’, not all, seem to have absorbed a lot of the professional literature. This professional literature is not always conducive to the free interchange of ideas.

      Parents tend to be a big part of the problem. Without parents there probably wouldn’t be any Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Should any Oppositional Defiant Disorder child grow into an Oppositional Defiant Disorder adult, I think it would expose the mental health system for the throwback to totalitarian government that it actually is. Poor people can get more benefits with disabled kids, and the drugs are seen as an aid in disciplining them. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) was, and remains, the organization built by people with relatives in the mental health system. Some of these relatives of patients are intent on keeping their kin in the institution. A few years ago, it was revealed that NAMI received 56 % of its funding from drug companies during that time period. NAMI continues to see psychiatric drugs as the first line of defence against mental health issues. Without the collusion of bad parents, psychiatry wouldn’t be thriving to the extend that it is today.

  3. Thank you, MFV. I was joking about Rod’s “you, me and Sheila” comment.

    Do you mean when you say that many “seem to have absorbed a lot of the professional literature” that they have absorbed the opinions of psychiatrists?

    I agree with what you say about parents being a big part of the problem but I would add ignorance to the mix. A parent finding their child difficult who is handed a diagnosis by a doctor and a box of pills to fix the problem might not question this.

    I think good parents would be shocked to know the ins and outs of what goes on. It is sickening. What the drug companies and colluding doctors are up to is tantamount to legalised child abuse. Little Gabriel is a victim of institutionalised child abuse.

    The way big pharma has its dirty fingers in so many pies they do not belong in turns my stomach. There is no way an organisation like NAMI should be receiving funding from drug companies. This is a clear case of conflict of interests. People who are mentally ill want to be well; the drug companies want them to be sick.

    Children in foster care are particularly vulnerable because there is no parent there to even question a doctor’s mandate. Staff want to keep the children under control, much like staff in mental institutions want to keep patients under control. That this bill is unlikely to pass because of drug company interests is disgusting.

    Totalitarianism has been there all along, it just hires better public relations companies lately. Pushing drugs to the population at large is the way forward in controlling the masses. Follow that up with the eugenics soon to be perfected and we have our Brave New World. Pass the soma, please.

    • Oppression is oppression.

      Do you mean when you say that many “seem to have absorbed a lot of the professional literature” that they have absorbed the opinions of psychiatrists?

      Yes, many mental health consumers sound like psychiatric textbooks. They talk medical model psychiatry, the language of disease, symptomology, and treatment. This absorbtion of the culture of the oppressor is typical of an oppressive system. Plantation owners in the ante-bellum south would destroy the slaves links to Africa in the process of getting them to work their land. The same kind of thing goes on in the mental health system. Freedom of thought in the oppressed is frowned upon by the oppressor.

      I agree with what you say about parents being a big part of the problem but I would add ignorance to the mix. A parent finding their child difficult who is handed a diagnosis by a doctor and a box of pills to fix the problem might not question this.

      Very correct. Ignorance is a big part of the problem, and education is a big part of the solution to that problem. People don’t know how damaging these drugs are, and they don’t know there is anything they can, or should, do about it. Another big part of the problem is that much of the research on mental health issues is being conducted by drug companies in the interests developing newer drugs. This means conflict of interest, the company doesn’t want any bad press, and they will do what they can to get a good print up. If the research were independently funded, and there were more drug-free options available, we’d be in a much better situation. It wouldn’t be a much better situation for the drug companies though, with them it’s all about the money.

      NAMI, the MHA, the NIMH, university research departments, schools of continuing education, etc., etc., drug company money is everywhere. As with other corporations, drug companies and private mental health services buy politicians and votes. We’ve not just got a problem with ignorance, we’ve got a problem stemming from deliberate deception. The truth is at a primium these days, which leaves most people stuck with out and out lies. Some of these experts know a little bit more than they’re letting on, but they’re also under the spell of their own disinformation. When people let the truth slide, people figure it’s safe to let the truth slide a little more. Unfortunately, in this case, this lax attitude toward the facts means the death toll mounts.

      Although I don’t think we’re in danger of any imminent return to the consciously eugenic policies of the past, as that recent overturned decision in Massachusetts and much dubious genetic research shows, eugenics is still very much with us. Excuse the Freudian terminology, I believe that much of the mental health profession is still pretty much in denial when it comes to its own somewhat less than overt eugenic practices. Being an optimist by nature, I’d hope that the facts of the matter will catch up with them eventually. Every time there’s a new revision to the the DSM, creeping medicalization makes a gigantic leap. This is really BNW type stuff, and people need to pick up on it, and maintain a certain amount of vigilance against it.

  4. Oppression in a democracy creeps up on you in the guise of national security. Rights once taken for granted are not there any more but nobody really comes face to face with that until they find they have transgressed a law the did not know existed or they are suspected of doing so.

    On a day to day basis there are changes in laws that erode the rights of the individual and shift the balance of power further and further into the hands of conglomerates and monied enclaves.

    Every time there is a change in the ruling parties, laws are changed and new laws are created. No right is safe.

    Few care enough or can be vigilant enough to stop every sneaky attempt to push through new legislation. The people who do and are have to be ready for every trick in the book.

    Big pharmacuetical companies do not care that they get hauled up from time to time. They can appeal, get the compensation reduced, dissolve companies and set up trading with new ones the next day, pay people off, harass people, murder people. The compensation they pay – even though it may sound like a lot – is a drop in the ocean of their profits.

    They are drug pushers. If a scruffy looking man on a street corner was found trying to convince a mother that the drugs he was selling were good for her child, we know where he would end up. The same law must be applied to the drug companies and doctors who push drugs they know are harmful onto children.

    If existing law can be used, then great. Bring on the attorneys and the class action lawsuits. Otherwise what is needed is a way to change the law – or change the battleground.

    • People should have the right to refuse such drugs. If mental health law were repealed, then there would be no basis for forced treatment, inpatient or outpatient. Repeal mental health law, and nobody would be drugged, and therefore injured, against his and her will. That takes care of a great deal of the problem. The damage produced by these drugs then becomes entirely voluntary. You’d help a great many people right there. It would also serve the reliability of information. People who didn’t want to be injured wouldn’t have to worry about being injured. People who didn’t know any better could initiate a class action suit after the fact. The problem now is that drug treatment is standard practice, and doctors can be found liable for deviating from standard practice. I don’t think drug treatment would remain standard practice if it was entirely voluntary. This is what you get out of having a mental health law.

  5. Correction: “pharmaceutical”.

    On the surface of it, voluntary treatment only sounds like a fine idea. In a hypothetical situation, a man is arrested for, say, jumping on the hoods of people’s cars when they stop at a junction. The Police determine that he is disturbed because he thinks he is fighting demons, so they take him to a medical facility instead of taking him to jail. Once there, he starts cowering in the corner and screaming in agony. His eyes roll back in his head and he becomes unresponsive to questions. He shakes and sweats and his heart races.

    So, what do you do, MFV? Leave him in the corner? Chuck him out in the street and tell him to get some self-control? Give him a shot of something to give him some relief and regulate his bodily functions, then get him into bed whilst you try to locate his family and find out about his medical history? Other?

    You see, someone like this might get like this every day without medication. They might regularly refuse medication. So what do you suggest as an alternative? What do you recommend as “standard practice” for this man? Truly, I am curious. It is no good going in with no alternative.

    Answers on a postcard, please.

    • I will skip the postcard, and answer you here and now.

      Most people locked up in the criminal justice system, and said to be “mentally ill”, are locked up for relatively minor offenses. When the charges are more major, the “mental illness” excuse can’t be applied anyway. In this sense, what we are seeing is a criminalization of that group of people often dealt with by the mental health system. As has been stated before, if you close state hospitals, without at the same time providing community supports, the numbers of people “taken care of” by the criminal justice system is going to rise. If you take beds out of the hospital, and you don’t provide comprable attention back in the community, you’re failing somebody. I’m for negotiations whereever possible. The criminal justice system is there to deal with people who break the law. If some of those people have personal issues, then the system has to be cognizant and responsive to those personal issues. I’m not against prisoners receiving counseling. I’m not even against what they are calling today “jail diversion”. I am against imprisoning people who have broken no laws. I’m against imprisoning them in prisons, and I’m against imprisoning them in prisons called “hospitals”. A hospital is not, and should never be, a place of imprisonment. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case when it comes to our present way of dealing with mental health issues.

  6. People talk about the high proportion of mentally ill people in prison as if it is a normal fact of life. I think the fact that a lot of people are there simply because they are mentally ill has to be questioned.

    Insanity pleas are entered for serious offences. The accommodation does not differ significantly between the supposedly sane and the criminally insane however.

    Mental illness can be a reason, it is not an “excuse” across the board as you suggest.

    I have said the next part of what you write myself. This habit of turning the mentally ill into criminals disturbs me.

    There is a difference between having “personal issues” and being ill.

    I think jail diversion to be a good thing. There is an issue with the training of US law enforcement officers that will take a while to achieve, although. The tendency towards harassment and brute force to bring someone in or to bring a situation under control, rather than the use of deescalating skills, has a significant effect on prison populations. It has a particularly significance for people who are experiencing mental problems.

    No, a hospital should never be a place of imprisonment. Voluntary admission should mean voluntary discharge. I think that there are exceptions to this to be applied when a person might be reasonably expected to endanger others or themselves. This is a difficult one because we have to question the people who judge on this.

    None of what you have said answers the question.

    • If we had more crisis respite centers, such people would have a place to go where they could spend the night for a few days if they needed to do so. CRCs allow people an safe out from any bad and threatening situation they may be in. There aren’t a lot of respite centers in the country, but the National Empowerment Center is encouraging the creation of more such crisis respite centers. I’m not saying this necessarily would work with the man in your example, but there is no way to find out whether it would work or whether it wouldn’t if it isn’t tried.

      • G M Forest, on March 7, 2012 at 1:27 am said:

        I think these places are a great idea. I am putting a couple of links up:

        http://www.power2u.org/peer-run-crisis-services.html (NEC)

        http://www.gmhcn.org/files/respite-programs.pdf

        There are one or two in this list:

        http://www.rethink.org/living_with_mental_illness/everyday_living/holidays_respite/holidays_and_respite.html

        This link makes for interesting reading. I was talking about resilience elsewhere so will post this there too:

        “According to referral agents, clients residing in
        respite have an experience of safety and an
        opportunity to experience a calm environment at a
        time of major turmoil. One referral agent argued
        that respite offered clients ‘greater self resilience
        especially using planned respite because the client
        feels in control and that is empowerment working’.”

        From:
        http://www.aes.asn.au/publications/Vol2No1/respite_care_in_christchurch.pdf

        They are thin on the ground and no mistake; I found nothing of particular note in Australia or Canada. I know there are expensive places to go but I tend to be a bit suspicious of their motives and the majority of people can’t afford them.

        With any emergency respite, it is very important to keep red tape to a minimum and to regulate the ‘gatekeepers’. There is nothing worse than an officious admissions officer standing between a person and the help they need. And form filling should not be the first thing on anyone’s mind.

        I think the man in my example would be better off being taken into emergency respite rather than being taken to jail or to a US mental institution.

  7. Crisis Respite keeps people out of the hospital, and it saves the state money. There should be Crisis Respite Centers everywhere, but right now we’ve got a struggle just to get them anywhere. I think, anyway, that they should have a great future. They are new, they are preventative, and politicians need to listen. They are effective, and they save the taxer payer money. What better rap can any program get?!

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