Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Over-Medication of American Children

Just skimming the headlines I could barely finish reading this on the death of 4 year old Rebecca Riley, who lived very near to me:

How do you diagnose a TWO AND A HALF YEAR OLD as having attention deficit disorder?? Or bi-polar disorder? Isn't being squirrelly and difficult the job description for a two year old? Isn't that we call them the Terrible Twos? This kid never had a chance.

God rest her soul, poor thing, born to terminally stupid parents and into a very dangerous medical culture. What good would imprisonment do for these two? Keep them from procreating? Their hearts are broken. They were criminally ignorant, not murderous. Leave them be.

Well, if it generates serious discussion about the ethics of prescribing prescription psychiatric drugs to tots, her death will not have been in vain.


Anonymous Kim Hampton said...

If this also brings up the issues of being a parent without parenting, that will be good too.

This is not just about over medicating children, far too many people are running to drugs to cover any problem (where there may be no problem).

Anonymous KJR said...

Actually it does look as if the parents were more than stupid --- they gave larger doses than prescribed and they seem to have a history of marginal or worse parenting. The story suggests they used the drugs as a way to cope with the results of their own bad parenting.

That doesn't let the doctor off the hook, however. You don't give the kind of drugs whose side effects are not infrequently listed as death or disability to toddlers unless the problem is incredibly severe and they can be well-monitored. Psychotropic drugs have been life savers for many --- but a cure for poor parenting and lack of patience they are not. The doctor's conduct looks like criminal negligence and hubris to me.

Blogger Comrade Kevin said...

You wish there was a way, sans eugenics, to ensure that certain people didn't procreate and have children.

But then you merely introduce this concept and someone brings up the Nazis. So let me stave off that argument by saying AMERICA CAME UP WITH IT FIRST.

As my friend Blue Gal says, Marx had it backwards: opiates are the religion of the masses.

So let me be honest here. I have bipolar. But...I take my meds. I regulate myself. I have a disorder that is no different than diabetes or any sort of chronic condition.

And I tell you this because I honestly don't have a big regard for people who use meds as a way to compensate for their own internal issues.

Meds are not a panacea. There is no perfection in life and there is no one who decreed that life is always supposed to be pain-free and happy.

Anonymous madgebaby said...

for lots of families, disability is a way of life and of making a living, and has been for generations. Having a child with a diagnosis of a severe mental illness is as close to a gravy train as they can get. Thing is, poorly attached, badly parented, neglected and abused children often look mentally ill and often are, and in the community mental health system drugs are easy to come by (by their nature, not because of misuse necessarily) while therapy means change and guess what--they don't want to change because getting well would mean the benefits dry up.

Top that off with parents who have their own issues, and who probably self medicate and are not all that bright and may have been doctor shopping (I don't know, but it happens)--what a mess.

That said, there are kids who need meds, but not in isolation from therapy and parenting skill training and support networks to make sure these kids have some of what they need to manage.

This is sad, very sad. Parenting is hard, grueling, stressful work even in the best of situations, and it is too bad that all that "pro life" rhetoric doesn't take into account the actual lives many children lead (particularly if they aren't wanted in the first place).


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