Friday, December 26, 2008

The Biggest Drug Problem in Schools is not Street Drugs

Anyone who has an interest in what is going on in the world of children’s health has noticed the explosion of medications and diagnosis of children with ADD, ADHD, Asperger syndrome or Autism. Does is strike you as strange that all of a sudden a huge percentage of otherwise normal and healthy children are being diagnosed with these dire diseases and schools and their associated medical counterparts are prescribing all manner of strange sounding drugs to “fix” these problems?

This is not to say that these conditions do not exist. The rates of new autism cases in New Jersey is astronomical, and they are not a figment of some drug rep's imagination. But I am suggesting that there are many children who do NOT have have these conditions who are nevertheless offered as candidates for medication by some school psychologist.

When we were growing up, just because a child didn’t sit still in class, particularly a boy, the teacher didn’t scream that the child had some disease and demand that he be drugged. But that is exactly what is happening to thousands of children in public schools all over this country. And at some point, it’s up to parents to stand up and say, “STOP. You are not going to keep pumping drugs into our kids just because you can’t control your classroom.”

If you were to make that kind of statement to a school on behalf of your own child, you would face tremendous amount of pressure to have your child tested medically for one of these “behavioral diseases” so the medical community can cooperate with the schools and prescribe Ritalin, Concerta, Paxel or one of the other common behavior control drugs. Schools have a fair amount of leverage over us when it comes to forcing us to drug up our kids. Because these diagnoses are supposedly backed up by medical experts, the schools can maintain that you must comply and get your child on medication or be guilty of child neglect or abuse.

Schools often use the threat of holding a child back, expelling them or putting them in special needs classes, knowing that each holds a terror that works very well at getting parents to play along with their plan. Now this is not to say that there are no children who are not good candidates for such medication. But the use of these drugs is being pushed for such a large percentage of children that its easy to see that what is going on here is nothing short of criminal.

There are plenty of reasons to believe that neither the schools nor the medical “experts” who peddle these drugs are being objective about what your child really needs. One big clue that your child is not a chronic problem is if he or she is perfectly happy and social at home and the problems only occur at the school. We hear many reports of children whose school behavior "problems" normalize when they are homeschooled. So while the problem may not be with a particular school, the fact is that most children thrive in an environment where there are only a few students per teacher.

We teach our kids to say no to drugs. So it’s about time we also taught our schools to say no to the idea of drugging up our kids just so they are more compliant in the classroom. The first thing to do is to take the teeth out of their threats to hold your child back or otherwise punish you or your child. And that can be done by researching your private school options, or homeschooling.

It might sound harsh but unless your child’s pediatrician that you know and trust has independently diagnosed your child with one of these behavioral problems, the minute the school tries to put that label on your child without any other evidence outside the school, it might be time to consider either private school or homeschooling. The last thing you want is to give the public school the leverage to threaten you and get away with it.

And if they begin to lose students because of these threats, maybe they will get the message that parents don’t want their kids pumped full of drugs and that we want our children to learn with all of their mental and emotional faculties fully alive each and every day of their lives.

Other articles in this vein can be seen at Homeschooling Causes Measles! and Watch This Before You Get A Flu Shot.


  1. Anonymous12:33 AM

    Please do not tell that old story that teachers diagnose and demand that children be medicated.

  2. Hi,

    My own pediatrician once remarked privately to me that if my son had been in school "they would have medicated him years ago." I have seen enough people bring their kids home for school and have them thrive after having behavior problems and threats of medication to know that it is not uncommon. As I mentioned, it is most often a school psychologist and not a teacher that makes the recommendation to medicate.

    20 years of home schooling make me realize that classroom teachers deserve combat pay. But this blog is about home schooling, so it necessarily contains a home schooling point of view.

    Thanks for reading. Agreement is optional!

  3. The only state where psychologists have prescription privileges is New Mexico, and then only after an additional three years of training - and as far as I know none of those psychologists are school psychologists.
    Under federal law (IDEIA and Section 504), school districts are obligated to identify students with disabilities who need accommodations or specially designed instruction in order to make educational progress. Students with ADHD may qualify for accommodations or special education if they need it to make progress (not all students with ADHD do qualify). Those accommodations do not include medication, unless the family has provided the school with physician's orders that the medication be dispensed at school. The evaluation of students with ADHD is complex and multi-faceted - and by law must be done by a multi-disciplinary team, no single professional. The behaviors associated with ADHD must be manifest across multiple settings, including home, or the problem is not likely ADHD.
    By the way, school districts are required to offer services to families of students with disabilities who are home-schooled, but parents are not obligated to accept them.

    John MacDonald, PhD, NCSP
    School Psychologist
    Poulsbo, WA

  4. Thank you, John, for your comment. Apparently, things have improved in this area since I first started homeschooling in 1989, and I am glad to hear it. The anecdotal evidence I am working off of is more than 10 years old, anyway. I appreciate the information.