September 27, 2002
"The legal psychotropic drugging of millions of children has to stop."
WASHINGTON DC: Lisa Marie Presley addressed a Congressional hearing Thursday, September 26th, voicing her deep concern over the legal psychotropic drugging of millions of American children, stating: "I have spoken to children who have been forced to take a cocaine-like stimulant to control their behavior; I have shared their sense of sheer desperation. Children have been wrenched from their family's care simply because their parents favored an alternative, drug-free approach to addressing educational and behavioral problems. The psychotropic drugging of millions of children has to stop."
The Government Reform Committee hearing chaired by Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders—Are Children Being Over Medicated?" was held at the Rayburn House, to examine the increasing trend of children being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the safety and efficacy of drugs prescribed for this "disorder." The drugs have been given to children as young as three years of age.
An estimated six to eight million children have been prescribed powerful stimulant and antidepressant drugs to treat ADHD and other "learning disorders" which have not been scientifically validated. The widespread drugging has increased public concern that children are being drugged simply to control their behavior, and usually without full information given to parents about the medical validity of such disorders, or the dangers of the drugs used to treat them.
Ms. Presley, addressing the Committee as the International Spokesperson for Children's Rights, for the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), addressed this lack of information provided parents: "I want to emphasize looking for drug free answers. Only by looking for alternatives to drugs will parents discover for themselves the numerous simple, workable and drug-free answers to the problems of attention, behavior and learning. A child could suffer from allergies, lead poisoning, eyesight or hearing problems, or be simply in need of tutoring, or something even more basic than that—phonics. Instead of supporting what is drug pushing, our governments, schools and doctors must ensure that all—not carefully selected—information is made available to parents in order for them to make an informed choice about their child's educational and medical needs."
Dr. Mary Ann Block, author of No More ADHD, who has successfully
treated thousands of children with attention and behavior problems without
the use of drugs, testified that parents are not made aware of the dangers
of psychiatric drug treatments, "Most of the children I have seen
who have been prescribed these drugs have never even had a physical exam.
No doctor listened to their hearts even though many of the side effects
of the drugs are heart related."
Underscoring Dr. Block's point is the case of one father, Mr. Lawrence Smith, whose seven year-old son, Matthew, was diagnosed through his school as having ADHD. His parents were told that he needed to take a stimulant to help him focus and non-compliance could bring criminal charges against the parents for neglecting their son's educational and emotional needs. On March 21, 2000, while skateboarding, Matthew tragically died from a heart attack. The coroner determined that had died from the long-term use of a prescribed stimulant.
Today Smith says he is still haunted by the fact that his son never wanted to take the drugs, and the fact as a parent he was never given full information about the scientific validity of the disorder, or the dangers of the drugs before agreeing to administer them to his son: "The parent and the child should be well informed of all the risk factors, before they make their choice. I say they, because the child should also have a choice with an informed understanding of all the risks. If my son had had a choice, he would still be here today; he never wanted to take the drugs."
The drugs are known to cause weight loss, manic behavior, central nervous and cardiovascular damage, and, because they are chemically similar to cocaine, could predispose the child to future drug dependence. Psychotic episodes can occur with abuse and suicide is the major complication of withdrawal from amphetamine-like drugs.
Bruce Wiseman, the U.S. President of CCHR, testified: "Families are grieving for their lost children because they were not provided with all the facts about mental health treatments, especially psychotropic drugs, and were denied access to alternative and workable solutions. We are asking this committee to initiate safeguards for parents and children across the nation."
Wiseman cited the American Medical Association's standard for Informed Consent which calls for communicating the "nature and purpose of a proposed treatment or procedure; the risks and benefits" of such treatments and the alternatives ." In relation to parental permission and assent in pediatric practice, the American Academy of Pediatrics says, " the patient has the freedom to choose among the medical alternatives without coercion or manipulation."
But these standards have been insufficient to prevent the 1,100 percent increase in ADHD diagnoses since 1987 and a 700 percent increase in the use of one stimulant prescribed for this.
On behalf of CCHR, Wiseman called on the Government Reform Committee to recommend federal legislation that:
a) Makes it illegal for parents or guardians to be coerced into placing their child on psychotropic drugs as a requisite for his or her remaining in school;
b) Protects parents or guardians against their child being removed from their custody if they refuse to administer a psychotropic drug to their child;
c) Provides parents the right to "informed consent" which includes all information about alternatives to behavioral programs and psychotropic drugs, including tutoring, vision testing, phonics, nutritional guidance, medical examinations, allergy testing, standard disciplinary procedures, and other remedies known to be effective and harmless.
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was established in 1969 by the
Church of Scientology, and co-founded by Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus,
Dr. Thomas Szasz. CCHR encourages concerned parents, citizens and government
officials to log onto their website, http://www.fightforkids.com
for more information on this issue.
To read all of CCHR's press releases, click
Click below to read
Lisa Marie Presley
Dr. Mary Ann