“Attention deficit drugs when given to children over long periods of time neither improve school achievement nor reduce behavior problems.” - L. Alan Sroufe, psychologist
Henry Daily Herald – October 24, 2013
By Larry McNorton
How bad can our children be that we have to drug them to send them to school? This letter has been waiting to be written since 1985. That was the first year I entered a state school classroom and found that a couple of kids in my class were taking a drug called Ritalin. I knew absolutely nothing about Ritalin at that time. I did get an uneasy feeling in my gut and asked the parents to take their children off the drug, if, the only reason they were on it was for my benefit. The two children that were taking Ritalin were taken off immediately and I had no problem with the boys academically or behaviorally.
During the week of October 28-November 1, State schools will be celebrating “Red Ribbon Week.” This event will have one purpose—Drug Awareness. State schools will be trying to convince the public that their goal is to be drug free. There will be a different activity each day to bring attention to the fact that the schools are making students aware of the negative effects of drugs and to encourage them to pledge that they will remain drug free. Along with wearing a sticker all week that says something to the effect “Happy to be Drug Free”, students will wear something red on the first day; maybe crazy socks on the second day; perhaps a funny hat on the third day; definitely they will wear the school colors by the fourth day, and, of course, wear their favorite team colors on the last day. These activities may or may not be exact but, whatever they do will be just as nonsensical and it will be just as void of any instructional benefit.
Are state schools actually drug-free? Are all private schools or even all homeschoolers actually drug-free? The probability of illicit drugs such as marijuana and alcohol, on state school campuses is very high on any given school day. However, for the sake of argument, let’s say that these illicit drugs are never present on any state school campus anywhere at any time. Would that mean that state schools are drug free? I would not bet my child’s life on it.
There will be no real education about the use of drugs during “Red Ribbon Week” and there is a very good reason. If state officials truly educated students, parents and themselves with the truth about drug abuse in our State schools, they would reveal that the real danger is not in the illicit drugs found on campus from time to time but rather the prescription drugs administered on a daily basis by the parents and school officials themselves. These drugs are prescribed by a licensed medical professional; dispensed at the local pharmacy; and administered by parents and teachers. They are known as antipsychotic/antidepressant drugs. Some of the most well known drugs of this variety are Adderall, Ritalin, Luvox, Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac. There are others, of course and more coming on the market almost daily.
The idea is that these drugs will make students achieve higher and behave better in the classroom. Are these drugs the miracle cure we have been looking for in classroom management? Do these drugs really help students in the educational process? L. Alan Sroufe, a psychologist that has been studying the development of troubled children for forty years, gives each question a resounding, NO! He states, “Attention deficit drugs when given to children over long periods of time neither improve school achievement nor reduce behavior problems.”
Along with being ineffective in the area for which they are touted, these drugs can also have serious negative side-effects. Consider the following: Shawn Cooper, a sophomore in Notus, Idaho, fired a shotgun at his fellow students. He was on Ritalin; Thomas Solomon, in Conyers, Ga., shot and wounded six classmates. He was on Ritalin; Kip Kinkel, in Springfield, Ore., killed his parents and two classmates and wounded 22 other students. He was on Ritalin and Prozac; Eric Harris of Columbine High School was on Luvox when he killed fellow students. Rod Matthews, at age 14 beat a classmate to death with a baseball bat in Canton, Mass. He had been on Ritalin since the third grade. Do we really need to wait any longer for this study or that study to confirm what the rest of the world apparently already knows— that drugging our children for no better reason than they are easily distracted or fidgety is just plain wrong?
America is responsible for 90% of worldwide consumption of Ritalin. Four million children and teens in America are currently taking Ritalin or some other form of antipsychotic drug. Georgia is number one in Ritalin consumption in the United States. The Book of Proverbs teaches that, “A truthful witness saves lives, but he who utters lies is treacherous.” I invited Drs. Jeremy and Amanda Hess of Discover Chiropractic to speak to the other parents at High Point on this subject. A mother who had just transferred her son from State school to High Point took him off Ritalin immediately. This young man is still with us and has truly been drug free for two years. He is just as successful academically, emotionally, behaviorally and spiritually as any other student in his grade level. Like the Drs. Hess, I share this truth with the desire to save the lives of children. My prayer is that this October every parent with a child on any type of antipsychotic / antidepressant drug will honor “Red Ribbon Week” by taking their child off these drugs. This will insure that not only will our schools be drug-free but more to the point our children will be drug-free. After all, which is more important the image of the school or the life of the child? While State schools will be celebrating “Red Ribbon Week” and being “Drug Free Zones” our children according to the hard, cold facts, are killing and be killed because of the abuse of antipsychotic/antidepressant drugs.
— Larry McNorton, Director
High Point Christian Academy