White Paper; TeenScreen

The People's LobbyistTeenScreen is a so-called “diagnostic psychiatric service” survey done on children who are then referred to psychiatric treatment. The evidence suggests that the objective of the psychiatrists who designed TeenScreen is to place children so selected on psychotropic medication.
“It’s just a way to put more people on prescription drugs,” said Marcia Angell, a medical ethics lecturer at Harvard Medical School and author of “The Truth About Drug Companies.” She said such programs will boost the sale of antidepressants like Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac even after the FDA in September ordered a “black box” label warning that the pills might spur suicidal thoughts or actions in minors.
TeenScreen attempts to create in the media, a suicide hysteria, when in fact suicides are on the decline. The suicide rate for ages 10 to 19 fell from 6.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 1992 to 4.6 per 100,000 in 2001, according to the Center for Disease Control. In 1991, 10 of 100,000 people in Florida ages 10-24 committed suicide. By 1999, that number had dropped to six out of 100,000.
TeenScreen was developed by psychiatrist David Shaffer of Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute’s Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Shaffer, according to the Integrity in Science Database , is a paid consultant and apologist of pharmaceutical companies. As a consultant, Shaffer has served as an expert witness for Hoffman la Roche and Wyeth and as a consultant to GlaxoSmithKline on paroxetine (Paxil or Seroxat) and adolescent suicide.
In December of 2003 British drug regulators recommended against the use of antidepressants in the treatment of depressed children under 18 because some of the drugs had been linked to suicidal thoughts and self-harm. Shaffer at the request of Pfizer, (the maker of Zoloft) attempted to block the British findings, sending a letter to the British drug agency saying that there was insufficient data to restrict the use of the drugs in adolescents.
Just this last October, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that all medications used to treat depression must carry a black box warning label, advising that children and teens may become suicidal when taking the drugs. Shaffer opposed the FDA regulation and argued to the FDA’s scientific advisory panel that any drop in suicide over the last few years was caused by the growing use of antidepressants!
However, overwhelming evidence indicates that psychiatric drugs are not preventing suicides – they are causing them.
On January 1, 2005, the British Medical Journal, on the heels of the FDA black box warning, reported that the FDA has agreed to review confidential drug company documents that went missing during a controversial product liability suit more than 10 years ago. The documents indicate a link between the drug fluoxetine (Prozac), made by Eli Lilly, and suicide attempts and violence.
In Pinellas County, Florida, an ongoing research project has already established that a large majority of teens who committed suicide were on psychotropic drugs or had received psychiatric treatment. In the years 2002 and 2003, 81% of the suicide cases were either on psychotropic drugs or had received psychiatric treatment.
TeenScreen and Columbia University refuse to divulge who is funding TeenScreen. One corner of the Internet did give a clue to the funding. Eli Lilly, (the pharmaceutical company) funded the TeenScreen program in Tennessee.
Although the name TeenScreen was not mentioned, the New York Times , reported on December 17, 1998 that William J. Ruane, an investment advisor put $8 million into the screening research of Shaffer, the TeenScreen psychiatrist.
As far back as 1995, Ruane already had a “longstanding relationship” with Shaffer. In June of 1995 the Ruanes funded a professorship of Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Columbia University which “supported training and research into the effectiveness of psychopharmacological agents in treating childhood psychiatric disorders”.
The Psychiatric Times reported in March of 1998 that Ruane and wife Joy, gave 1.5 million to study the effects of psychiatric medication in children to the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Shaffer’s home base.
According to a New York Post article in 1999, the New York State Psychiatric Institute conducted experiments on kids, some as young as 6, with the powerful mood-altering drug Prozac and failed to tell the children or their parents about the most serious risks. While testing Prozac on 30 severely depressed patients ages 12 to 18, researcher’s notes indicated “Some patients have been reported to have an increase in suicidal thoughts and/or violent behavior”. Records showed that at least four experiments used Prozac on young children including one funded by Prozac’s manufacturer, Eli Lilly Co.
Laurie Flynn , the PR for TeenScreen, searches out teens who have committed suicide and then writes letters to the editors throughout the country, promoting TeenScreen as the “solution”. Flynn is no stranger to the pharmaceutical industry. She formally served as the head of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill which received millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies.
In Florida, David Shern of the Florida Mental Health Institute is attempting to lobby the Pinellas County School Board to change it’s policy on anonymous surveys of children. He wants the school board policy changed so that he can obtain the child’s name, after he does his “suicide” survey. He does not want student surveys to be anonymous, as they are now under existing regulations.
The Florida Mental Health Institute, under Shern’s direction has received $120,000 from Columbia’s TeenScreen. Shern and the FMHI have also received a grant from Eli Lilly in the amount of $249,420 for a study on the use of antipsychotic drugs.
As to studies on TeenScreen itself, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (top U.S. Government Research outfit) report of May of 2004 which states:
A. There is no evidence that screening for suicide risk reduces suicide attempts or mortality.
B. There is limited evidence on the accuracy of screening tools to identify suicide risk.
C. There is insufficient evidence that treatment of those at high risk reduces suicide attempts or morality.
D. No studies were found that directly address the harms of screening and treatment for suicide risk.
Pilot applications of TeenScreen offer no evidence of success.
TeenScreen was established in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1997. According to a 2003 Tulsa World newspaper article, Mike Brose, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, stated: “To the best of my knowledge, this is the highest number of youth suicides we’ve ever had during the school year — a number we find very frightening.”
350 youths were suicide screened in Colorado using TeenScreen’s survey. Unbelievably, they found 50% were at risk of suicide.
Mark Taylor, who was shot several times during the April 1999 massacre at Columbine high school says that programs like TeenScreen experiment on kids, who will eventually end up on psychotropic drugs. He attributes the Columbine incident to the fact that the shooters were on antidepressants.

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Mary Panton Testifies in Committee Hearings

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Free Choice and Parental Rights by Mary Panton

The People's Lobbyist

By: Mary Panton

First published in the Tampa Tribune on April 21, 2005

Dear Editor:

Your editorial –  “Tears Don’t Psych out Lawmakers” – casts into question the sincerity of those who testified on behalf of legislation to prevent parents from being forced to put their children on psychiatric drugs as a condition of their attendance in state-funded schools and calls for parents to be informed of the dangers of psychotropic drugs and that alternatives do exist.   Now I call into question yours.

The child medication bill, House Bill 209 and Senate Bill 1766, is about children – our future.  This is a concern to all parents whether they are Scientologists, Baptists, Catholics, Jews or any other religion or no religion at all.

You conveniently fail to mention in your editorial that there were four people who gave testimony in support of the bill last Tuesday in Tallahassee – none of whom are Scientologists.  They are Dr. Julian Whitaker, Dr. Fred Baughman, Mrs. Beverly Eakman, the president of the National Education Consortium and a mother, Tabitha, who was forced to put her child on drugs.  Each also gave testimony to the dangers of psychotropic drugs and the need for parents to get full information including the fact that psychiatric “diagnoses” are not based on scientific tests.  Dr. Whitaker is a 30-year board-certified physician, the director of the Wellness Institute and Editor of one of the most popular health publications, Health and Healing.  Dr. Baughman is a child neurologist who has been in private practice for 35 years and who has a website called “Exposing the Fraud of ADD and ADHD” – http://www.adhdfraud.com .  Mrs. Beverly Eakman left the teaching profession several years ago because she was fed up that schools had turned into psychological clinics where the children were being psychoanalyzed but not educated.  Mrs. Eakman has written several books on the subject, including, The Cloning of the American Mind, Educating for the New World Order and Microchipped as well as several published articles.  All of these people gave impassioned pleas to legislators to step forward and take a stand in Florida to curtail the drugging of our children and tell parents the truth.

You conveniently omitted the discussions by the lawmakers at the House hearings that they believe that some clause on disclosure must be included in the bill that passed the Education Council on Tuesday so that parents are fully informed of the consequences and alternatives to putting their children on psychotropic drugs.  And many of the legislators including the chairman, Rep. Dennis Baxley, commended Rep. Barreiro for courageously bringing the issue forward.

I say give parents the facts, NOT authoritative one-sided propaganda.  Telling parents that nutrition, allergies, chemical sensitivity and real education are alternatives to drugging is a service and an acknowledgment to the parents’ intelligence.  Then they can make informed decisions.

Yes – this legislation is supported by Scientologists.  It is also supported by conservatives, the NAACP, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Federation of Women Legislators, the Preventive Medicine Center of Gainesville, the Academy of Trial Lawyers, the Florida Catholic Conference and many others.  Ten states have passed similar legislation.  America is waking up to the appalling fact that we are drugging our next generation into mediocrity, criminality and illiteracy.

Fifty years ago America was number six in the world on the literacy scale.   Now it is a distant 49th.   What happened?  Instead of being educated, 8.5 million school children in America are being fed mind-altering, brain-numbing drugs, lining up in school for their “Kiddy Cocaine” and psychotropics so powerful, they are driving them to hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and violent behavior.  Eight of the last twelve school shooters were known to be on these drugs.  The scientific evidence exists that these drugs not only fail to help cure “behavior problems” or “over active” children, but that they cause vicious and damaging effects on children.  Yet sales of stimulants alone for children have climbed to $1 billion a year.

Since 1987, when ADHD was voted into the psychiatrist’s compendium of “mental disorders”, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, without any scientifically identifiable physical cause, there has been a 900% increase in the number of children “diagnosed” with ADHD and a 665% increase in the production of cocaine-like stimulants for children.  Between 1995 and 1999, the use of antidepressants increased 580% in the under 6-year-old population and 151% in the 7-12 age group.

This issue is not about Scientology or any religion.  It is about standing up to the enforced, unproven, life-altering “treatment” of our children.  It is about free choice and parental rights.

Mary Panton

Executive Director

Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Florida

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Who Would Oppose Full Disclosure and Parental Consent

The People's LobbyistBy: Mary Panton

First published in the Tampa Tribune April 25, 2005

Dear Editor,

I read with interest your recent article on legislation (HB 209 and SB 1766) to protect children and parents rights currently being considered by the Florida legislature. There are two parts of the bill. The first part would prohibit the State from rejecting public school students whose parents refuse to put them on mind-altering psychotropic medicine as a pre-requisite for attending school. This is virtually identical to a federal bill passed last year by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Bush. The second part requires full disclosure to parents if and when school administrators refer their children to psychiatric care, with the predictable recommendation to use drugs to control their child’s behavior.

Who would oppose full disclosure and parental consent when it comes to psychological screening and the drugging of our state’s school children? Most surprising is that the leading opposition to the bill is the Florida Drug Czar, Jim McDonough, whose job it is to free Florida’s citizens of the harmful effects of drugs. Incredibly, Mr. McDonough told the House committee that his concern about this legislation was the ‘unintended consequences’ of letting parents have the full picture when it comes to psychological screenings or the right to refuse the powerful mind-altering drugs being used as chemical restraints in the classroom.

The resounding response from the Health Care Regulation Committee on passing the bill through the committee was best summed up by Rep. Poppel, who said he was dismayed that the only opposition to the bill came from professional psychologists and sociologists who each had a vested interest in the continual labeling and drugging of our youth. The committee passed the bill out favorably with a vote of 10-1 in support of Full Disclosure and Parental Consent.

While the legislature provides financial incentives to increase the grip of the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industry on our schools, this legislation simply asks to give parents a role in their children’s future. Rep Gustavo Barreiro (R-Miami) wants parents to get the full picture when it comes to labeling and drugging their children.

In an era of special interests, it is refreshing to see Rep Barreiro and Senator Victor Crist (R-Tampa), and the other co-sponsors of this bill, stand up for the rights of the all too often unrepresented public. It took the US Congress to force the FDA into hearings on the deadly side effects of psychotropic drugs that resulted in the strongest Black Box Warning label about the suicidal consequences associated with the use of these drugs by our youth. When young Jeff Weise shot up his Minnesota school, McDonough had his facts so wrong that he testified before the legislature that Rep Barreiro’s bill would prohibit Weise from getting the help he needed. The next day, the national press including the St. Pete Times, exposed the truth; that Weise had been under psychiatric treatment for years and was currently taking the drug Prozac when he murdered his friends and killed himself.

Currently, the Florida Department of Education statistics show an alarming 40% of all Special Education funding is spent on Learning Disabilities and the Emotionally Handicapped. This after a 2002 President’s Commission on Special Education released it’s finding that 40% of all children in Special Education are labeled with learning disorders simply because they had not been taught to read. Our schools need to concentrate on the business of teaching children not controlling their behavior with life altering techniques.


Mary Panton
Executive Director
CCHR Florida

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