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« on: November 24, 2004, 06:23:55 PM »

Congress Funds Mandatory Psychological Tests for Kids

Newsmax | November 23 2004

One of the nation's leading medical groups, the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS), decried a move by the U.S. Senate to join with the House in funding a federal program AAPS says will lead to mandatory psychological testing of every child in America – without the consent of parents.

When the Senate considered an omnibus appropriations bill last week that included funding for grants to implement universal mental health screening for almost 60 million children, pregnant women and adults through schools and pre-schools, it approved $20 million of the $44 million sought, Kathryn Serkes, public affairs counsel for AAPS, told NewsMax.

This $20 million matches a like amount already approved by the House, Serkes advised.

While the funding cut of some $24 million was a little good news, suggested Serkes, whose organization has zealously opposed the the measure, she said the organization was most worried about the failure of Congress to include “parental consent” language sought by the AAPS.

Last September, AAPS lifetime member Rep. Ron Paul, M.D., R-Texas, tried to stop the plan in its tracks by offering an amendment to the Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Act for FY 2005. The amendment received 95 “yes” votes, but it failed to pass.

According to Serkes, Paul is now mulling offering stand-alone legislation in the next session to once again try and get a provision for parental consent.

The federal bill on its face does not require mandatory mental health testing to be imposed upon states or local schools, explained Serkes.

However, the HHS appropriations bill contains block grant money that will likely be used – as is often the case with block funding – by the various states to implement mandatory psychological testing programs for all students in the school system.

The spending bill has its roots in the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, created by President Bush in 2002 to propose ways of eliminating waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness of the mental health care delivery system.

Although the report does not specifically recommend screening all students, it does suggest that “schools are in a key position to identify the mental health problems early and to provide a link to appropriate services.”

The bottom line, explained Serkes, is that a state receiving money under this appropriation will likely make its mental testing of kids mandatory – and not be out of synch with the federal enactment.

The other telling point, said Serkes, is that although the relatively minimal funding at this point is certainly not enough to fund mandatory mental testing for kids countrywide, it’s an ominous start:

“Once it’s established and has funding, a program exhibits the nettlesome property of being self-sustaining – it gets a life of its own. More funding follows.”

Officials of the AAPS decry in the measure what they see as “a dangerous scheme that will heap even more coercive pressure on parents to medicate children with potentially dangerous side effects.”

One of the most “dangerous side effects” from antidepressants commonly prescribed to children is suicide, regarding which AAPS added, “Further, even the government’s own task force has concluded that mental health screening does little to prevent suicide.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Paul says the mental testing scheme is a looming feature of "Big Brother" that if unchecked will push parental rights out of the picture:

“At issue is the fundamental right of parents to decide what medical treatment is appropriate for their children. The notion of federal bureaucrats ordering potentially millions of youngsters to take psychotropic drugs like Ritalin strikes an emotional chord with American parents, who are sick of relinquishing more and more parental control to government.

“Once created, federal programs are nearly impossible to eliminate. Anyone who understands bureaucracies knows they assume more and more power incrementally. A few scattered state programs over time will be replaced by a federal program implemented in a few select cities. Once the limited federal program is accepted, it will be expanded nationwide. Once in place throughout the country, the screening program will become mandatory.

“Soviet communists attempted to paint all opposition to the state as mental illness. It now seems our own federal government wants to create a therapeutic nanny state, beginning with schoolchildren. It’s not hard to imagine a time 20 or 30 years from now when government psychiatrists stigmatize children whose religious, social, or political values do not comport with those of the politically correct, secular state.

“American parents must do everything they can to remain responsible for their children’s well-being. If we allow government to become intimately involved with our children’s minds and bodies, we will have lost the final vestiges of parental authority. Strong families are the last line of defense against an overreaching bureaucratic state.”

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