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Traditional parenting, spanking, morality are out, drugs to control kids behavior are in

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 17th, 2013
Catholic Online (

Consumer Reports is highlighting recent research that proves children are being over-prescribed psychotropic drugs to regulate their behavior. In an age where discipline has become both a moral and legal dilemma for both parents and schools, drugs have become the solution of choice. They may be the wrong choice.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Consumer Reports, doctors are prescribing powerful psychotropic drugs to children at a rate that has tripled in the past 10-15 years. Doctors prescribe these drugs to treat serious psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, and are increasingly prescribing them to treat lesser behavioral problems in kids.

Doctors are prescribing the drugs to children as young as 2 years of age. Evidence now suggests these drugs may come with serious side effects such as weight gain, high cholesterol risk, and the possibility of type-2 diabetes, according to Consumer Reports.

The American Psychiatric Association is calling on doctors to revisit how they treat children with behavioral problems, suggesting that doctors refrain from using the drugs as a first-line treatment. Yet, hapless parents may still insist.

Doctors typically prescribe these drugs for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but they are now being given to kids with ADHD and autism. Doctors may prescribe any drug for any condition they feel it is medically necessary. 

It doesn't help that these kids often consume large quantities of sugar, caffeine, and are constantly stimulated by electronic devices.

Parents of today often turn to drugs as a first response to behavioral problems because traditional practices have become passť.

Spanking, for example, is no longer politically correct and is increasingly equated with child abuse. Academic studies demonstrate that spanking and other forms of physical punishment can increase aggression in children and lead to developmental and psychological problems, even after the sting of the swat is passed. Nonetheless, common experience among older adults is that as children we can recall times when we refrained from delinquent behavior because our parents were not so enlightened.

Classroom discipline is also a challenge for school officials. Children, often unparented by apathetic parents, arrive in the classroom and choose to act out for a variety of reasons. Teachers and school officials have very few tools at their disposal.

While the best form of discipline in the classroom comes from an excellent and engaging lesson plan, there are still students who will become disruptive. Modern methodologies train teachers to understand that some behaviors are related to "culture" and "self expression."

Perhaps. However, a lot of behavior is simply inappropriate and will not be tolerated in a future workplace or in civilized adult society. Yet, the only tool teachers often have is the weak threat of detention.

Hands tied, doctors have come to the rescue with powerful drugs that can subdue a child's impulses before they strike. Yet, these drugs come with side effects and risks that may not yet be fully understood. Just because they work to solve one problem does not mean they're not silently creating another.

None of this is helped by aggressive marketing campaigns to parents and doctors from drug companies which have seen profits soar as people realize that Little Johnny behaves so much better after he's taken his pill.

There are legitimate uses for these drugs, however there are not enough good excuses to justify the incredible rates at which they are prescribed.

The way forward should include less drugs and better moral and behavioral education in both home and the classroom. Unfortunately, kids can't learn these things in classrooms where teachers are forced to hit benchmarks instead of teach moral behavior. Indeed, schools have been cleansed of prayer and quiet time, recess has been sacrificed, there are no moral compasses issued to students either in religious or even secular form.

Parents are either too busy working combined jobs to make ends meet and keep pace with their neighbors, and this leaves drugs, which happen to be quite expensive, as the solution.

Consumer Reports recommends a "multifaceted approach" where parents take the time to navigate the healthcare system, obtain second opinions, and addresses behavioral, emotional, and developmental issues with medications as a last resort, not a first. And if medications are used at all, they should only be part of a program, and not the whole of it.

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