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February 2007

Gary Null examines the increasingly common practice of prescribing psychotropic drugs for children - including preschoolers as young as age 2 to 4 - who have been diagnosed with ADD, or ADHD.In the absence of any objective medical tests to determine who has ADD or ADHD, doctors rely in part on standardized assessments and the impressions of teachers and guardians while the they administer leave little room for other causes or aggravating factors, such as diet, or environment. Hence, diagnosing a child or adolescent with ADD or ADHD is often the outcome, although no organic basis for either disease has yet to be clinically proven. Psychiatrists may then prescribe psychotropic drugs for the children without first without making it clear to parents that these medications can have severe side-effects including insomnia, loss of appetite, headaches, psychotic symptoms and even potentially fatal adverse reactions, such as cardiac arrhythmia.And yet, despite these dangers, many school systems actually work with government agencies to force parents to drug their children, threatening those who refuse with the prospect of having their children taken from the home unless they cooperate.To some, this looks like institutionalized child abuse in the name of mental health, where naturally active and inquisitive children are drugged into submission while the pharmaceutical industry prospers.

For more, go to:  The Drugging of Our Children,


Behaving Badly

According to the article, Teachers see classroom behavior worsen (published April 6, 2009), the behavior of children in schools is no better in the UK, either:

Teachers believe pupils' behaviour has worsened in the past few years, a survey has found.

Children can be disrespectful, insulting and even physically aggressive in the classroom and poor behaviour is now seen as a routine interference when trying to teach.

"Persistent low-level rudeness and disruption seems to have become a fact of life in education today and no longer raises eyebrows or seems to merit special attention" - Ian Lancaster

Many teachers say they have experienced health problems such as stress and anxiety because of it.

Almost two thirds of staff have had to deal with a disruptive student for punching or kicking while a quarter said they had to deal with a pupil for spitting, the survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) found.

And 1.5 per cent said they had dealt with incidents of a child stabbing or attempting to stab someone.

The vast majority said dealing with a student had interfered with classwork, with almost nine out of ten reporting low-level disruption such as talking, not paying attention or messing around.

Three-quarters of teachers said they experienced disrespectful behaviour such as pupils using a phone in class and ignoring requests.

Almost a quarter said they had seen pupils being physically violent, either towards the teacher or another student. A third said pupils swore, threatened or shouted in class.

Dr Ian Lancaster, a secondary school teacher from Cheshire, said: "Persistent low-level rudeness and disruption seems to have become a fact of life in education today and no longer raises eyebrows or seems to merit special attention. A sad state of affairs."

And teachers are not just facing abuse from students.

The survey found that almost four in ten had faced aggression from a parent. More than eight in ten said they had been verbally abused and insulted, while more than half said they had faced threats or been sworn or shouted at.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder what every-day life is like for so many of these poorly behaved kids. 

I grew-up in a very wealthy community, even though my Aparents were blue-collar workers.  (My Adad worked 3 jobs, my Amother was a teacher.)  For the most part, we were surrounded by families in which the fathers were doctors, lawyers or very successful NYC bankers/businessmen and the mothers were home doing whatever it is they wanted to do.  First-cars for the kids were brand-new and from what I was told by some, the pot, X, and coke at parties was always top-shelf.  I was not allowed to have much free-time, (I was too busy taking advance classes in summer school and working part-time), so all-in-all, I can't say I got along well with many people my own age.

By the time I was 20, I could not wait to leave that small suffocating up-scale town.  The pressure to be a great financial success was just too much.  I got married when I was 23 to a State Employee and we lived in a small house on a bad street for five years.  I quit my nursing job after I had my first baby, and learned how "luxuries" went away when you're on a single-income.  When I became pregnant the second time, we knew we had to move.   We found out we could not afford anything within our area, but we could afford to buy a newly built home in a small rural area forty miles away.  When we moved here, it was little more than farmland and a Walmart.  There were cornfields, cows, and sheep and lots of old stone buildings; I knew this was the place I wanted to live with my kids.   When my oldest started school, I learned many new things about my new-community.  I learned many of the other mothers had husbands working for Verizon, Lucent, Merck and several other big-time companies.   I learned my new big house was not nearly as big and nice as those not-so-far-away, and I learned, quickly, these young families did not stay in one place for too many years.  With the big-moving salaries, there also came quick and sudden moves.  (I'll never forget asking my friend who lived across the street, "WHY Singapore?!?")  In my mind, stability and a place called "home" mattered more than the salary... but then I know my perception of "perfection" is not like most.

My kids live in a neighborhood where most move-in and move-away within a few years.  Most of their friend's fathers travel every week because their jobs in technology or the pharmaceutical industries require it.  The wives and kids live in large houses with every game, toy and electronic gadget known to man.  While many of the men boast about their travels and golf strokes, most women I know have tried at least 2 types of anti-depressants and want some form of plastic surgery.

It's been almost 11 years since we first moved here.  I used to be very social and outgoing.  I now keep to myself, work on my computer and take care of the house and kids, hoping a 40 year-old SAHM can find a job before my husband retires.

If kids are behaving badly, and mothers are lonely and depressed, one has to wonder if it's the pressure to perform, provide and do much better that's killing the family and the human spirit.

At the risk of starting to sound like an old fart

When I grew up late sixties, early seventees, I recall being outside a lot of the time and so were most of the other children in my neighbourhood. At the time computers were still big machines primarily owned by universities and large corporations. Very few people had a VCR and mobile phones easily weighed several pounds. I know... I am starting to sound like my grand father who saw the first cars being introduced and who was born the year the Wright brothers made their first flight at Kitty Hawk.

Nowadays when I walk through a residential area, I hardly see any children playing outside. I am being told this is because streets are now more dangerous than 30 years ago due to increased traffick. Certainly there are more cars now than when I grew up. At the time a family had at most one car and some didn't even own a car.

Still I remember traffick at the time wasn't all that safe either. In fact I would say it is safer now. Almost every street has a gazillion speed bumps and the number of children injured by cars has dropped significantly over the years. Yet, children play significantly less in the street and as a result don't rid themselves of a surplus of energy so common at that age. Instead I see many hanging in front of the TV, which nowadays has programs aimed at children 24/7 or I see them play computer games. All highly visually impacting, while none of those triggers can be released through actual physical activity (unless one calls pressing buttons on a remote control or moving a joy-stick a physical activity).

I also see eduction being more feminized nowadays than it was when I grew up. With equal oportunity for women the eductational system has changed from one that teaches more masculine qualities such as factual knowledge, logic, rules to more femine qualities such as social networking, group work etc. It's notable that the number of girls going to university here has exceeded the number of boys significantly. As a result, typical boyish attitudes (being loud, exploratative, testing the limits of authority) are treated as problems instead of typical boyish traits.

Of course these are just a few of my observations, maybe even tainted by some nostalgia, afterall I am an old fart compared to children growing up nowadays.


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