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Originally published August 13 2009

States Drug Foster Kids to Death - Medical Neglect?

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A shocking 31 percent of teenagers in foster care in the state of Florida have been placed on psychotropic drugs, the Miami Herald has revealed.

"It is doubtful that so many children in Florida have severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia," wrote columnist Daniel Shoer Roth. "Rather, the majority are minors removed from their homes and carted from one foster home to another, from one school to another. In addition, they must make that emotional roller-coaster ride with precious little psychological aid."

According to Florida state law, psychiatric drugs cannot be prescribed to children without either the consent of a parent or an order from a judge. But according to a report from the Department of Children and Families, consent was not given in a full 14 percent of cases. Even in cases where consent is acquired, it may not truly be informed consent -- either because parents or judges do not fully understand a child's mental health needs and the implications of pharmaceutical treatment, or because parents are intimidated or mentally incapacitated.

Child advocates have questioned the state's widespread reliance on drugs for troubled foster children.

''One gets the impression that these drugs are utilized as chemical straitjackets, not for therapeutic reasons,'' said neuropsychologist and attorney Toni Appel.

These critics point to the case of seven-year-old Gabriel Myers, who had been taken into state custody in 2008 after he was found in a car full of narcotics next to his unconscious mother. He was placed on four different drugs, one of which poses an increased risk of suicide in minors.

"Did the state take into account that Gabriel had been sexually abused, that he knew that his mother would go to prison and that he had been moved from foster home to foster home in his last weeks?" Roth wrote. "Instead of love and understanding, he got pills."

Myers hanged himself in April.

"It is very easy to wrest a child from negligent and abusive parents," Roth wrote. "What's difficult is to assume the responsibilities the parents never met.

"Once again, the state proved to be deadly negligent."

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