Eagle Forum
EF Twitter
Back to October Ed Reporter

Education Reporter

Judge Rules for Ritalin
ALBANY, NY - When seven-year-old Kyle Carroll of Berne, New York, was diagnosed by a psychologist as having ADHD, a prescription for Ritalin was not far behind. The child soon exhibited two of the drug's common side effects, sleeplessness and appetite loss, and his parents advised school officials that they wanted to temporarily discontinue the medication. The result was a visit from Albany County Child Protective Services, a petition to appear in court, and ultimately, what amounted to an order from Family Court Judge Gerard E. Maney to resume using the Ritalin.

Kyle was covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which requires that a child labeled ADHD have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) devised by the school to meet his needs. Drugs prescribed by a medical doctor may become part of the plan.

According to the New York Law Journal (8-17-00), the school district accused the Carrolls of "educational neglect," and Albany Family Court "law guardian" Pamela Joern supported the school's position. She stated that: "A medical doctor prescribed Ritalin based on the recommendations of [a] psychologist. The child took it for a period of time, his behavior improved and the parents unilaterally decided, because of their own beliefs, that they weren't going to give him Ritalin. His behavioral problems returned and interfered with his school performance."

Under what was described as "at least the theoretical threat of having their child removed from their custody," the Carrolls agreed to "an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACOD)." The compromise requires Kyle's parents to comply with the doctor's recommended treatment (Ritalin). Although the Carrolls may get a second opinion, they are not allowed "to ignore the problem."

Abuse of Judicial Authority 
Some experts called the "consent decree" an "inappropriate use of judicial authority." Professor Jeffrey Schaler, a psychologist and law professor at American University in Washington, DC, accused the judge of "engaging in parens patriae." "Invading a child's body or person with a chemical is an invasion of privacy and also a deprivation of due process," he told the Law Journal. "It deprives the parents of the liberty of raising their child as they see fit."

In an August 16 column, writer and scholar Thomas Sowell alluded to other similar abuses by the courts. He referred to a story in USA Today that claimed parents have been threatened with charges of child neglect or abuse and with having their children taken away by authorities if they fail to administer Ritalin. "There are lots of little tin gods in the schools who are ready to put this label [ADHD] on children who are bored and fretful at the uninteresting and unchallenging material presented to them," Sowell wrote.

Class Action Suit Filed 
In May 2000, the Dallas law firm Waters and Kraus filed a class action suit alleging "fraud" and "conspiracy" against Novartis, the manufacturer of Ritalin, the private organization Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), and the American Psychiatric Association. The suit charges that the defendants committed fraud in conspiring to over-promote the diagnosis of ADHD and its treatment with the stimulant drug methylphenidate (Ritalin).

Although not a party to the suit, Dr. Peter R. Breggin, director of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP), is its medical consultant. Dr. Breggin has long warned about the potential toxic effects of Ritalin and other psychotropic drugs on children. (See Education Reporter, April 2000.)

White House Concern 
When the White House publicly expressed concern last March about the psychiatric drugging of young children with stimulants such as Ritalin and antidepressants including Prozac, Dr. Breggin called it "political damage control." He described the announcement as a reaction to the overwhelming negative public response to revelations in the Journal of the American Medical Association about the increased drugging of two-to-four-year-olds. "In reality," he said, "Mrs. Clinton and Tipper Gore gave a huge boost to the psychiatric medicating of children at the White House Conference on Mental Health in June 1999."

The underlying theme of the White House announcement was the need for "more research." Dr. Breggin counters: "What's needed is a moratorium on the psychiatric medicating of children under age six, and a reconsideration of the dangers for older children as well."

Google Ads are provided by Google and are not selected or endorsed by Eagle Forum
Eagle Forum 200 West 3rd St. • Alton, IL 62002 phone: 618-433-8990 eagle@eagleforum.org