The partnership requires the Illinois State Board of Education to develop and implement a plan that incorporates social and emotional standards as part of the mandated Illinois Learning Standards, which are due on Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich's desk by Dec. 31. This inevitably opens up screening for politically incorrect attitudes and nonconformity with liberal attitudes of tolerance.
Mental health diagnoses are inherently subjective and social constructions, as even the diagnostic manuals admit. Many thousands, if not millions, of children would receive stigmatizing diagnoses that would follow them for the rest of their lives.
"State-of-the-art treatments" will result in many thousands of children being medicated by expensive, ineffective, and dangerous drugs. The long-term safety and effectiveness of psychiatric medications on children have never been proven.
The side effects of suggested medications in children are severe. They include suicide, violence, psychosis, cardiac toxicity, and growth suppression. Several school shooters, such as Eric Harris (Columbine) and Kip Kinkel (Oregon) had been on antidepressants or stimulants when they committed their crimes.
The validity of much scientific research has lost its credibility because the Food and Drug Administration has allowed the pharmaceutical industry to withhold data not favorable to their products and because people in the pay of the pharmaceutical companies are the ones recommending medications.
The current controversy about links between suicide and antidepressant drugs that have not been adequately tested has contributed to the uproar. The FDA posted an analysis in August that some antidepressants pose a risk of suicide in children.
Parental rights are unclear or nonexistent under these mental screening programs. What are the rights of youth and parents to refuse or opt out of mental screening?
Will they face coercion and threats of removal from school, or child neglect charges, if they refuse privacy-invading interrogations or unproved medications? How will a child remove a stigmatizing label from his records?
A Columbia University pilot project of screening students called TeenScreen resulted in one-third being flagged as "positive" for mental health problems, and half of those being turned over for mental health treatment. If this is preview of what would happen when 52 million public school students are screened, it would mean hanging a libelous label on 17 million American children and putting 8 million children into the hands of the psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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