Who rules the medicine cabinet?
The Suspension of a 12-year-old boy whose mother refused to give him Ritalin has sparked a class-action suit by parents who say schools are bullying them into giving their children drugs
CHERYL CORNACCHIA, The Gazette
Published: Sunday, April 02, 2006
The case of a 12-year-old Longueuil boy suspended from school when his mother refused to give him Ritalin has sparked concerns over who is in charge of the medicine cabinet.
Do parents have the right to say "no" when their child's school says they need prescription drugs?
"Absolutely, they do," said Montreal family law lawyer Alan Stein.
However, Stein said, some parents second-guess themselves when a teacher or school social worker recommends Ritalin, a drug that stimulates the central nervous system and is used mainly to treat attention deficit disorder.
Stein was reacting to the case of Gabriel Lavigueur, who was suspended from Ecole Secondaire St. Jean Baptiste in Longueuil on March 20. He remains out of school.
After two meetings last week with the boy's mother, Danielle Lavigueur, Stein said he will petition to file a class-action suit this week in her name and on behalf of Quebec parents who believe they have been bullied into putting their children on Ritalin.
The Quebec-wide suit is expected to tap into growing concerns about the long-term consequences of the stimulant that has been called "kiddie cocaine," and on how Quebec schools have become increasingly involved in the Ritalin prescription process.
To date, parents have been fighting the troubling trend on a case-by-case basis, said Richer Dumais.
Dumais is the executive director of a Montreal-based non-profit parents' rights group, the Commission des citoyens pour les droits de l'homme.
Over the past year, his group has received 81 complaints of parents being pressured to put their children on Ritalin by a teacher, school principal, board social worker or psychoeducator.
The group has documented 13 individual cases involving mostly boys, age 8 through 12, and in schools in Montreal-area school boards, among them the Commission scolaire de Montreal, the Commission scolaire Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Commission scolaire Marie-Victorin.
In protest, he said, the group has written letters to the school boards involved, the Quebec College des medecins and to the provincial Education Department.
In Quebec, prescriptions for Ritalin doubled between 1999 and 2004, according to IMS Health, a Montreal-based company tracking prescription drug sales.
Dumais said those increases mirror the success of the Quebec government's education department's 2000 action plan, a research and community-based program designed to identify schoolchildren at risk and help them succeed.
Over the past two years, according to the Education Department, 148,147 Quebec children have been identified as "at risk."
Ritalin may be part of their individualized education plan, said ministry spokesperson Francois Lefebvre, but if it is, the drug is prescribed by a doctor.
That's well and good, Dumais said, but when a parent is told his or her child will be expelled from school if he or she doesn't take Ritalin, that's coercion.
"We're going to see a lot more cases of this kind of thing," he predicted.
In one instance documented by his group, he said, "the parent was told by his son's teacher that his son had problems with the neurons in his brain."
The parent responded: "Are you a doctor?"
In the case of Gabriel Lavigueur, his mother had signed a "plan d'intervention" that identified him as "at risk" and included prescription drugs along with other school, community and home initiatives.
But she said she stopped giving her son Ritalin at the beginning of January when he started suffering side effects, including insomnia, loss of appetite and aggressiveness.
Simultaneously, she said she also stopped giving him Paxil and another medication, two other drugs he had been prescribed but which are not approved by Health Canada for anyone under the age of 18.
At that time, Lavigueur said, her son, who is bright but has been labelled hyperactive with attention deficit disorder, became less agitated. His appetite and ability to sleep returned.
But school officials said they also noticed a change in his behaviour. They maintain Gabriel Lavigueur became unmanageable.
He was given repeated two- and three-day suspensions in January and February and was eventually suspended indefinitely.
Francois Houde is the lawyer representing Commission scolaire Marie-Victorin.
Ritalin, Houde said, had nothing to do with Lavigueur's indefinite suspension.
Houde said the boy repeatedly failed to follow the school's regulations pertaining to dress, hair colour, behaviour and school performance.
He added the school is open to allowing the boy to return if he is willing to follow its ''code de vie" and the intervention plan his mother signed.
However, George Mentis, president of National Parents Association, another Montreal group compiling cases, said "it's a Catch-22."
When he hears the term "code de vie," he said, "it means medicate your child or else."
"It's an alarming trend," Mentis said.
On Friday, Mentis and Danielle Lavigueur met with Houde, the board's lawyer and other school officials involved in the case.
"They keep saying drugs are not the issue," Mentis said. "But they also say Lavigueur can't come back to school until he follows the intervention plan that mandates drugs."
Uh, what made the school think it had the right to tell the parent how to medicate her child?
And which MD that works at the school diagnosed him?
The sad thing is that people allow themselves to be bullied in this manner. If it were me, then I guess my son wouldn't be going back to school. In fact I'd REFUSE to send my children to such a place. Homeschooling is always an option.
=Eqilibrium=Take your meds, good boys and girls............
Kid probably just needs the parents to give him a good ass whuppin every now and again.
Maybe if she beat her kid a little more, he wouldn't need Ritalin.
How about schools actually trying to teach students???????? This is really problem in our country also. Numerous school shooters have been on Ritlin. Part of the problem from what I have seen is that boys are being feminized by the schools. When it doesn't work and they get into a fight or a shoving match instead of handling it like the schools used to they use Ritalin. If I remember right both shooters at Columbine were on it.
I was thinking more along the lines of "well the school can't beat the kids anymore, so what do you expect them to do?"
If she physically disciplined her kid, whether he's in a public school or not, she could still be charged with assault & battery, if the local police felt so inclined.
Welcome to raising kids in 2005, in North America.
Sounds like the kid might be ahead of his classmates and is bored with the work. Bored kids find ways to amuse themselves.
Can't have anybody being better than average of course.
Most of you are all missing the boat.
I will guarantee you this is an obnoxious, abusive little asshole, created by a fucked up shitty parent who thinks her little prince is above all the rest of us peons and that we should all kiss his ass while he acts out and disrupts the entire class.
Fuck her. Fuck her little brat.
I am totally opposed to medicating these kids but the bottom line is that these kids should just get the boot if they cannot behave. And that's really what this is all about but they can't say that thanks to all this PC bullshit.
The rules are different north of the border...
Are teachers and school social workers licensed to practice medicine in Canada?
Pretty much. Class=35 kids, 5 have ADD, no teachers aides or support. It's a full time job trying to keep the ADD kids on task all day, let alone teach them anything.
How happy will you be with your teacher/school when you have a child in a class, and due to the teacher having to spend loads of time disciplining and keeping a kid with ADD on task your child misses out on education?
AIRWOLF is in Montana?
I was in a gifted and talented class in Elementary and Middle school, and went to a math and science based boarding school.
Somehow, almost all of us had been diagnosed with ADD and been told to go on meds....
Most of us also had discipline problems at previous schools too. Why? First of all, most of us were bored out of our minds. Second, most teachers these days are not exactly the best people to be, um, teaching (in my current department the smart kids get BA's and go to grad school, the bottom part of the class goes History Education and heads to the schools). So any kid that doesn't fit into their mold obviously has problems. If a kid corrects everything you say about World War One because he likes reading about it and the teacher obviously only read the chapter in the book on it, obviously you should do everything you can to shut him down.
Sure, there are kids who act out because their parents suck, but meds doesn't trump discipline. Why medicate a kid into a stupor because his parents don't discipline him?
Why is ADD such a problem now, but wasn't previously? I submit that it's both that a fair number of parents such at their jobs, and a heck of a lot of teachers and administrators suck ass at theirs.
ADD is such a big thing because lazy teachers and administrators want ALL their kids to fit into square pegs. And if they're round, they must force them into the size they want. This, typically, turns everybody into "average" students or worse.
Closed on the house Feb 13. Took a few weeks after that to get the rest of my crap up here from the PRK and start making it "official" (Driver licence, tags, bank accounts, etc...)
Because otherwise, the education of ALL THE OTHER KIDS in the classroom suffers, because little Timmy cant shut the fuck up and sit down - and because parents won't allow the school to smack their poorly behaved child.
If the parents can't be bothered to raise their children, and they misbehave in school and won't listen to teachers, what is the school system supposed to do? They are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place, it seems to me, because it is probably difficult to expel a child because of misbehavior in class like that, but if the parents won't discipline their kid, then what are these teachers supposed to tell all of the other parents, whose kids have to suffer from little Timmy's disruptive influence during the lesson?
Since they cannot FORCE parents to be responsible, then demanding a medication seems like a genius idea. It tehn puts the onus on the parents to either man up, and start raising their kid right (like threating them with a beating if they are disruptive in class), or it will cause the parents to pull their kid out of school - out of a sense of outrage and violations of privacay and blah blah blah, or it will allow the school to expel the child because the parents refuse to put the kid on medication.
Either way - the other children in the room win.
But yeah - I agree 100% that too many parents are putting thier kids on Ritalin and other drugs instead of RAISING them properly in the first place. I jsut think it's a very difficult position for the school to be placed in, because they really cannot solve the problem very well - only the parents can.
Thanks for saving me a bunch of typing.
One more thing though, this mistaken idea that "ADD/ODD" brats are bright, bored kids is bullshit.
I think it is getting to be time to run down to the local school and punch the fucking principle in the mouth!
I teach in an alternative High School in Chicago. Almost every kid in my class has some sort of learning disability. I would rather have them in my school instead of in a regular high school disrupting the regular classes. One of my kids suffers from lead poisoning as a child, he loses focus every minute of a class, and I have to redirect him from the seat next to him once a minute. Unfortunately, medicine really won't help this guy. He is screwed unless he can learn to control himself. If there was a medicine I would demand he get it for his benefit not mine.
It's the same in Massachusetts.
I speak from experience, as a teacher and as a parent. I also volunteer a lot in my kids' schools. I see what goes on, on both sides.
It's not pretty for either side if Johnny or Janey doesn't drink the Kool-Aid like everybody else. Gifted and talented programs take a major back seat to the Short Bus in education. Most kids are bored out of their socks in school, but most handle it better than others. The brighter and more original the kid, the more likely he is going to be a problem in school.
With the advent of standardized testing (MCAS here in MA), mainstreaming and the No Child Left Behind Act, everybody's been put at the same level as retarded kids. It was supposed to be the other way round, but dragging kids up to another level of achievement, when they really can't do the work, just drags down the bright and hard-working ones.
School is often dull as dishwater, since so many teachers pretty much just teach to the test and treat everything else, such as history, as fluff. Innovation is discouraged, unless it fits in with "teaching to the tests" and raising test scores.
Teachers' unions are primarily concerned with job security, pensions and leave issues. Lengthening their day, starting at later times or changing things radically is not going to happen as long as the teachers' unions drag their heels.
Suffice it also to say, if you try to raise and educate kids as they did twenty, thirty years ago, you could end up in a lot of trouble, if a state or school official thinks you are abusing or neglecting your kids, even if you're not. What they say goes, what you say is open to legalities.
I was thinking the same thing!
There is a big debate in the medical community over Ritalin. One side thinks that these kids just need the medication for the time there in grade school through high school; the other side thinks the medication keeps the kids from adjusting for their problem. The thought is we all have different handicaps but we learn to rewire our brains and work out the problems. Being on Ritalin keeps these kids from working out their problems. We know have kids in collage on Ritalin.
Sad story though.
For the very reason that you didn't learn to spell properly, and it has damaged your path in life. Demand reparations now! "Where's my forty acres and a mule?"
prin·ci·ple ( P ) Pronunciation Key (prns-pl)
A basic truth, law, or assumption: the principles of democracy.
A rule or standard, especially of good behavior: a man of principle.
The collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments: a decision based on principle rather than expediency.
A fixed or predetermined policy or mode of action.
A basic or essential quality or element determining intrinsic nature or characteristic behavior: the principle of self-preservation.
A rule or law concerning the functioning of natural phenomena or mechanical processes: the principle of jet propulsion.
Chemistry. One of the elements that compose a substance, especially one that gives some special quality or effect.
A basic source. See Usage Note at principal.
With regard to the basics: an idea that is acceptable in principle.
According to or because of principle.
prin·ci·pal ( P ) Pronunciation Key (prns-pl)
First, highest, or foremost in importance, rank, worth, or degree; chief. See Synonyms at chief.
Of, relating to, or being financial principal, or a principal in a financial transaction.
One who holds a position of presiding rank, especially the head of an elementary school or high school.
A main participant in a situation.
A person having a leading or starring role.
The capital or main body of an estate or financial holding as distinguished from the interest or revenue from it.
A sum of money owed as a debt, upon which interest is calculated.
A person who empowers another to act as his or her representative.
The person having prime responsibility for an obligation as distinguished from one who acts as surety or as an endorser.
One who commits or is an accomplice to a crime.
Architecture. Either of a pair of inclined timbers forming the sides of a triangular truss for a pitched roof.