Drugged Children – An expedient answer to a government’s problem

Saturday’s Globe and Mail has a shocking article about how the provincial government sanctions the over-medication of children who are wards of the Crown.

Psychotropic drugs are being prescribed to nearly half the Crown wards in a sample of Ontario children’s aid societies, kindling fears that the agencies are overusing medication with the province’s most vulnerable children.

“These children have lots of issues and the quickest and easiest way to deal with it is to put them on medication, but it doesn’t really deal with the issues,” said child psychiatrist Dick Meen, clinical director of Kinark Child and Family Services, the largest children’s mental health agency in Ontario.

Children who are removed from parental care under court order typically have to deal with a wide range of psycho-social issues that all too often manifest as behavioural problems. Rather than giving them the support they need to deal with the trauma of removal – let alone the traumas that spurred the removal order in the first place, assuming it was truly justified – government-sanctioned workers turn to controlling medications instead. The article goes on:

 “There are lots of other kids like that,” said Dr. McKay, one of the experts on the government panel. “If you look at the group homes, it’s close to 100 per cent of the kids who are on not just one drug, but on drug cocktails with multiple diagnoses.

“There are too many kids being diagnosed with…a whole range of disorders that are way out of proportion to the normal population. …It’s just not reasonable to think the children in care would have such over-representation in these rather obscure disorders.”

The report from a government investigation into the case obtained by The Globe uncovered group home staff untrained in the use and side effects of the psychotropic drugs they were doling out; no requests from the psychiatrist to monitor the boy for problems, and little evidence of efforts to treat the boy’s apparent mental-health issues other than with heavy-duty pharmaceuticals.

There needs to be a complete moratorium on prescribing such medications for children, together with calling a public inquiry into the over-medication of children in care, the over-medication of children because of teacher/school pressure, and the problematic of completely inadequate oversight of Children’s Aid Societies and their workers throughout this province. For once, won’t someone in power truly think of the children who have none.

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