This bill would prohibit schools from requiring a student to take psychiatric medication in order to attend school and prohibit the state from removing a child from parental custody based on a parent's refusal to consent to the administration of psychotropic medication.
A bill introduced into the Connecticut General Assembly is more specific. It would require all parents who are requested by the school to have their child evaluated be first provided with a statement that the government does not recommend any particular checklist, assessment or evaluation for psychiatric or psychological disorders, plus a copy of the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (the federal law that requires prior written parental consent before schools can require students to submit to psychological or psychiatric testing or treatment).
In 2006, Alaska enacted a law forbidding schools from conducting psychiatric or behavioral health evaluations and from requiring that a child take a psychotropic drug as a condition for attending a public school. Also in 2006, Arizona passed a law requiring that schools obtain written parental consent before conducting any mental health screening on any pupil and must make the actual survey questions available for inspection by parents.
Someone should notify state legislators and school districts that are contemplating mental health screening requirements that the American Psychological Association recently urged that "in most cases" of childhood mental disorders, nondrug treatment should "be considered first." This should include techniques that focus on parenting skills as well as help from teachers.
Even the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, an organization whose members strongly favor drug treatment, just completed new guidelines recommending that children receive talk therapy before being given drugs for the common complaint of moderate depression.
Parents should take on the responsibility of being parents. They should beware of the psychotropic drugs that have unfortunate or even tragic side effects. Parents should help to pass pro-parent legislation before those who think the "village" should raise all children use mental health screening to label their child as nuts.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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