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by Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD

November 7, 2000

(AP Education board urges alternatives to Ritalin for behavior problems.
Houston Chronicle, November 4, 2000)

At the hearing of the Texas State Board of Education, November 3, 2000,
on Ritalin for behavior problems in school children, board member, Mary
Helen Berlanga of Chorpus Christi said: “I do not think it’s for us to
decide which child should be on Ritalin or not. Quite frankly, that’s
where parents come in,” she said. “We at the State Board of Education
should not be trying to interfere with the rights of those parents.”
What Berlanga knows, but avoided saying, is that the teachers are in
control of who gets observed, labeled, referred, and, at the end of the
process–drugged. Rarely does the parent have a hand in this.
Frequently, what happens, in the end, is contrary to the wishes of the
parent. The process is that coercive. Teachers set the process in
motion, not parents, psychologists, psychiatrists or other
physicians—but the classroom teachers. I estimate that parents initiate
the diagnosing, labeling and drugging in well below 5% of cases.
Consider, nowadays the growing number of cases in which school
authorities report families to Child Protective Services who resist the
process. Consider the growing number in which courts, then, hold a
parent or parents to be negligent for resisting diagnosis and treatment
of what is a contrived, invented, fraudulent disease. Invariably, in
divorce cases decided in family courts, the court finds for the parent
advocating the diagnosing and drugging, threatening the doubting parent
with loss of his or her share of custody. I base this conclusion on
having testified in 20 to 25 such cases and having conferred with one
parent or the other in 50 or 60 more.

At similar hearings, May, 3, 2000, in the Arkansas, House of
Representative, we heard a state representative, one married to a school
official, deny that Arkansas teachers, diagnose, or suggest treatment
for schoolchildren. These are denials of exactly what is going on.
Teachers are exhorted by all in medicine and mental health to learn to
diagnose and to start diagnosing. Surgeon General, David Satcher has
been involved in such exhorting, both at home and abroad. If you have
any doubt, read the Report of the AMA Council on Scientific Affairs
(1998); they to exhort teachers to diagnose and label. It is very
clear that teachers have been dispatched on just such a mission. They
begin behavioral/psychological/psychiatric observations of children from
the moment the child enters their class and this is done without the
parents knowledge, much less, prior informed consent. Teachers
arrive at de facto diagnoses, again without prior informed consent and
then–whether or not they say they have diagnosed the child—they begin
to urge, and then, coerce the parent to get
medical/psychological/psychiatric consultation for the condition
they—the teacher—has in mind. The act of insisting on referral for
health care services, based on a presumption—a teacher’s
presumption—that a medical problem and need exists, is in fact, the
practice of medicine without a license. Moreover, schools now have
financial incentives built into laws regarding special education to
diagnose, label and refer ever greater numbers of children.

Let me return to the act of a teacher’s referring a child for physician
or other health provider consultation. Doing so, the teacher has made
observations and has come to the conclusion that a health problem
exists—one needing medical evaluation—whether or not the teacher has
written down or expressly spoken of a specific condition or disease to
anyone else on staff, or, to the parent. This is the practice of
medicine without a license but it is not the practice of the profession
of education. It is a perversion of the practice of education.

A majority of teachers mention ADHD explicitly and when they do they
characterized it as do virtually all health professionals as being a
disease, neurological, further violating the ‘prior informed consent’
rights of the parents and of the patient who began school as a normal

Summing up 95-98% of all diagnoses originate with teachers practicing
medicine without a license, violating—in every such case—the informed
consent rights of the child and family. In the vast majority of cases,
there is, in addition, coercion by school personnel.

No! Board Member Mary Helen Berlanga, this is not between the child, the
parents and their physician. The parents have very little say in the
matter and their rights are regularly trampled in the process, a process
that has no place in education. Educators have allowed themselves,
unwittingly, to become the biggest of pushers. In all of their history
of swallowing one fad after another, this—hardly a fad—is an all time

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