In previous posts I've expressed scepticism as to the wisdom of medicating children as a way of dealing with their perceived psychological problems, especially as the numbers and strength of dose seems to be going up whilst the starting age comes down. Last year the Daily Mail reported that children as young as three are now being prescribed Ritalin, whilst nearly a quarter of all children are described as having 'special educational needs'.
I could speculate as to the motivation behind this trend. From a purely financial point of view, the ideal situation for a pharmaceutical company is for people to start taking drugs as early as possible in life, a bigger potential market. I could also suggest that when a quarter of children don't fit into a system, maybe it's not the children who are to blame.
There's little point however in criticising one paradigm without offering up another to replace it, so here's my attempt to do that. In the above video Brandon Bays is interviewed about the simple therapeutic work she has developed for children. She gives examples of how children’s disruptive behaviour, the kind of behaviour that could earn them a label or prescription, can often be traced back to a traumatic event. What constitutes a traumatic event for a child can be as simple as being embarrassed in front of his or her classmates. When this trauma is addressed and released then behavioural or emotional or even physical problems will often resolve.
Whilst it's probably apparent that I don't like the idea of drugging kids very much, I don't wish to be a zealot either and say that there's never an occasion where it's appropriate or that it should be avoided out of principal. Decisions should of course be based on what's best for the child. I do however feel that it is being completely overused perhaps for reasons not to do with children’s well being. I also feel that more safe, effective and healing alternatives are available.