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SHOULD YOU SAY "YES"?

Today the battle lines are drawn in the dirt more deeply than ever before. Most of us are too busy working to look down and notice the dirt, let alone the lines marked thereon. Nevertheless, look down and they are there. You either think it's right to correct a kid's behavior with drugs, or you don't. You agree or you disagree, and the ripples from that pebble spread far and wide.

When I was a kid in elementary school, it was taught to us that drugs were bad, and that we should say "No." Ironically, that same message is still taught to children in schools, but with a caveat: Say "No" to drugs, but don't say "No" to Ritalin. That Ritalin is not a medicine, doesn't cure anything, and is currently being used as a "test" substance on kids over six million of them in the U.S. alone doesn't seem to strike many of my generation as alarming. Ritalin is prescribed to school-age kids to "treat" behavior that used to be considered normal childhood activity, such as fidgeting, study problems and boredom. At some point, every parent must decide where he or she stands on this important question: Is it right to drug my child when they are having trouble at school?

Blurring the argument is the fact that school psychologists make drugging of a child a normal, acceptable solution. Some schools now receive extra government funding for children on medication. Pharmaceutical companies also encourage the trend, and the reasons for that are easy to understand, unless you are the kind of person who cares that the way he makes a buck doesn't damage the lives of others.

Just for the record, we believe that drugging a kid is wrong, 100% wrong. How can a parent give these drugs to their child and kid themselves into believing that it will somehow have no ill effect? Ritalin is a drug in the same class of substances as cocaine; do you really think that such a drug will do no damage to a growing child?

The "disease" of ADHD is a myth with no biological basis in fact. In 1998, experts from the U.S. National Institutes of Health concluded that "We don't have an independent valid test of ADHD; there are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction... and finally, after years of clinical research and experience with ADHD, our knowledge about the cause or causes of ADHD remains speculative." Does that sound like strong enough scientific evidence for you to drug your kid?

Being a kid is tough enough without having mind-altering drugs served to you along with your Cheerios every morning. But the worst part is the message we send to our kids when we tell them it is right to use drugs to deal with personal problems. It's the wrong message.

Where do you stand on this important issue? Sooner or later you will have to decide. We've decided.

Jim       

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