Growing Use of Drugs on Kids a Touchy Issue

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 23, 2000 | Go to article overview

Growing Use of Drugs on Kids a Touchy Issue


Hillary Clinton has raised questions about the wisdom of drugging children. She is about to find out what controversy is. Big time. Take it from one who knows.

You could suggest the Chinese Communists might make a good ruling party in Congress and not get the kind of mail she is going to get. When you talk about special education you're venturing into sacred territory.

I know. Some years back I wrote about the way my wife and I had opposed educators who wanted to label my child and put him in special classes. You would have thought I labeled the Pope a Baptist.

Educators mounted letter-writing campaigns to get me fired. True-believer parents wrote anguished letters about how wrong we were and how we had to keep believing in special education to make it work, especially when it involved shooting drugs into our kid.

For us, this is all in the past. Time has showed we made the right decision. But the experience left me with a lot of sympathy for parents of young children who suddenly find themselves in this dilemma.

Hillary Clinton, who's running for the U.S. Senate in New York, took advantage of her first lady status to show up at the White House this week and announce a plan to study whether too many kids under 6 are being dosed with Ritalin and Prozac.

Ritalin is given to kids thought to be hyperactive, and the use of Prozac to change adults' moods is spreading ever down the age range. Why? Because the kids aren't at home with Mom any more. They're in day care and they need to be focused in a way we never required 3- and 4-year-olds to be before.

You notice Mrs. Clinton's not worried about the older kids. We've accepted that drugging them is OK, I guess.

Last month an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported a sharp rise in the number of preschoolers on psychotropic drugs.

Mrs. Clinton said she isn't against drug use. She said these drugs "have literally been a godsend for countless adults and young people with behavioral and emotional problems." She said she was worried that the drugs may be given to kids without a proper medical work-up being done first. …

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