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Youth oppression: From juvenile detention to psychiatric medication

By Stephanie Nichols

A survey done by the House Committee on Government Reform of juvenile detention centers across the country found that at least 15,000 children with psychiatric problems and mental disabilities were incarcerated last year because mental health services were unavailable to them.

This shows that the government chooses to pump more money into juvenile detention centers than into treatment services for youth with mental disabilities. Nor is any care given to seeking out the source of their problems. Instead, all the blame is put on the victim, the youth. Children as young as seven are being incarcerated. And according to the July 9 New York Times, "Seventy-one centers in 33 states said they were holding mentally ill youngsters with no charges."

Not only are youth in this country being incarcerated for having mental disabilities, many of them are being put on expensive, patented medications of questionable benefit which also can have potentially deadly side effects.

The Bush administration plans to unveil a new policy in July as a part of the New Freedom Initiative plan, based on recommendations issued by the New Freedom Commission. The commission states, "Each year, young children are expelled from preschools and childcare facilities for severely disruptive behaviors and emotional disorders." According to the commission, schools are in a "key position" to screen their students, as well as any adults who work with them.

The plan is using the Texas Medication Algorithm Project as a model for treatment. When Allen Jones, an investigator at the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General, revealed that the pharmaceutical company Janssen had bribed key state officials who held influence over the medication plan in his state, he was removed from his job.

The Texas Medication Algorithm Pro ject, which started in 1995, promotes the use of newer, more expensive drugs for the treatment of patients and helped make drug companies billions of dollars. And some of the billions of dollars they make go straight into the presidential campaigns of both George W. Bush and John Kerry.

Instead of nurturing children and providing services where youth can grow and develop, the capitalist government, which needs oppression to survive, uses the youth to generate profits by keeping them either locked up or drugged up.

By putting money into creating better schools and paying teachers better wages so they could offer individualized attention and smaller classes, and providing free health care to all, or by providing working parents with better wages and fewer working hours so that they could focus on their children's needs, the rich class which owns the corporations that run this government could not squeeze as much profit from the working class and oppressed, and the government could not exert as much control.

Reprinted from the July 22, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper
This article is copyrighted under a Creative Commons License.
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