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May 21, 2003
Contact: Marla Filidei


U.S. House of Representatives Passes H.R. 1170 to Protect Parents and Children

On May 19th in San Francisco, actresses Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley and her daughter protested against the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) recent opposition to two federal legislative initiatives. The legislation is designed to protect parents from being coerced by schools into drugging their children with potentially addictive psychiatric drugs. The march included parents whose children have tragically died from prescribed psychiatric drugs.

The APA opposes federal bill, H.R. 1170, The Child Medication Safety Act of 2003, and an amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), that would prohibit school personnel from forcing parents to drug their children as a prerequisite for educational services. However, on May 21st, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1170 by a vote of 425 to 1.

Ms. Preston said, "This is a tremendous step in the right direction for children, their parents and teachers. However, we must ensure that both bills are enacted to protect children against these abusive psychiatric drugs. Certainly, parents should never be forced to drug their child."

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR), the leading international psychiatric watchdog, organized the march. CCHR president, Ms. Jan Eastgate, declared that, "with eight million children now on stimulants and antidepressants, young lives have already been lost and many more are at stake. Parents must take back the reins. These laws will help them and improve the teacher/parent relationship."

Four states have already passed similar bills and another 16 have introduced bills this year. While the APA claims this legislation could "effect communications between teachers and parents," parents who have lived the terror of coercive psychiatric interference in their child's education vehemently disagree.

One such parent, Lawrence Smith, was threatened with criminal charges if he refused to drug his son, Matthew. In 2000, a Michigan coroner determined that 14-year-old Matthew's tragic death was caused by the Ritalin forced on him through his school. Now paying the ultimate price, Smith stated, "This legislation will prevent parents from being terrorized because they choose to have a drug-free child. Most importantly, it will save young lives and save families."

Mrs. Vicki Dunkle was pressured by a Pennsylvania school psychologist to seek out drug treatment for her daughter Shaina, and referred her to a psychiatrist who, after a 30-minute evaluation with no tests or physical exams, diagnosed her with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and prescribed her an antidepressant. On February 26, 2001, at age 10, Shaina died due to toxic effects of the drug prescribed, according to a coroner's determination. Both parents have subsequently become outspoken critics of the psychiatric drugging of children, and have helped form a grassroots parents organization.

CCHR further charged that opposition to these bills is about protecting the more than $1 billion-a-year child drugging industry in the United States. Millions of children are being labeled with ADHD, which was voted to be a "disorder" by APA committee members in 1987. Since then there has been a 900 percent increase in the number of children "diagnosed" with ADHD and a 665 percent increase in the production of cocaine-like stimulants for children. Passed off as a "neurobiological" disorder when there is no scientific evidence to prove ADHD exists, Eastgate said, "Children can have behavioral or academic problems but that doesn't mean this is a 'disease' requiring psychiatric intervention, usually drugs."

Ms. Preston added, "If a child is struggling in class, he or she may be creative or highly intelligent and be simply bored. Environmental toxins or allergies may also be affecting the child. I am sure parents would prefer a workable alternative to drugging a child. They must have the right to choose, instead of being coerced into a situation where it's drugs or dismissal."

Other well-known celebrity activists have been outspoken on this issue. Last September, Lisa Marie Presley testified before the House of Representatives Government Reform Committee in support of federal protections against coerced child drugging. Recently on Capitol Hill in March, Juliette Lewis visited members of Congress to voice her support for the issue. Priscilla Presley was a featured speaker and presenter at an annual CCHR awards banquet to help focus attention on the matter. Isaac Hayes has recently spoken out on the overrepresentation of African American children being prescribed psychiatric drugs and supports the federal bills. Anne Archer, Catherine Bell and Lynsey Bartilson have supported this issue.