A Front Group for the Psycho-Pharmaceutical
Updated: April 1, 2006 12:25 PM EST
TeenScreen is a very controversial so-called
"diagnostic psychiatric service" aka suicide 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
"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 even after the FDA
in September ordered a "black box" label warning that the pills
might spur suicidal thoughts or actions in minors. (The New York
Post, December 5, 2004)
TeenScreen is based on the thoroughly
discredited "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Procedure on Young Children
TeenScreen lures kids as young as 9 years old into doing the
suicide survey by offering them free movie passes, food coupons, "I
completed TeenScreen" stress balls and pizza parties, if they
consent to the procedure.
One tactic TeenScreen officials use
is to sell the child on the suicide survey first and after they have
the child's agreement,
they later contact parents.
TeenScreen Project Coordinator,
Kathleen Cigich, was quoted as saying: "We found early on, though,
that sending out letters directly to parents is prohibitively time
consuming and gets a low response rate. We thought, why not go to
students themselves and offer a $5 video store coupon to anyone who
brings back a parental consent form within a two-day turnaround
period. It works. Our response rate is extremely
TeenScreen also utilizes a "passive
consent" form which requires no written parental approval. The
passive consent form is sent home to parents and if they don't
return it TeenScreen considers that the parents approve. TeenScreen
officials favor passive consent because they say it boosts
their chances of screening kids to 95% as opposed to the written
parental consent technique. What if the child forgets to bring the
consent form home? What happens if the parent is too busy to refuse
in writing? They've consented in the eyes of TeenScreen personnel.
The youngster is sat down and asked introverting questions
- Has there been a time when nothing was fun for you and you
just weren't interested in anything?
- Has there been a time when you felt you couldn't do
anything well or that you weren't as good-looking or as smart as
- How often did your parents get annoyed or upset with you
because of the way you were feeling or acting?
- Have you often felt very nervous when you've had to do
things in front of people?
- Have you often worried a lot before you were going to play
a sport or game or do some other activity?
- Have you tried to kill yourself in the last year?
- Are you still thinking of killing yourself?
- Have you thought seriously about killing yourself?
- Have you often thought about killing yourself??
- Have you ever tried to kill yourself?
Based on the answers the child gives to the above questions
he is then shuffled off to a "clinician", who ponders the bogus
label to use.
Active Suicide Ideation?
You can find the checklist used to label the child
IMPORTANT NOTE TO
Parents are being mislead by a multi
billion-dollar a year child drugging industry that a diagnoses of
"mental disorder" (ADHD, Bi-Polar, Social Anxiety Disorder) are
medical diseases or illnesses. This is a fraud. No child has a brain
scan, blood test, X-Ray or any evidence of physical abnormality to
verify they are "ill" or "diseased."
continue to pound the public with misleading and fraudulent
statements that these so called mental disorders are biochemical or
neurological conditions. That is false. They are simply a list of
behaviors that psychiatrists vote into existence and insert into
their billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
This has led to over 8 million children in the
U.S. taking mind-altering psychiatric drugs.
and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV),
published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is
psychiatry's billing bible of "disorders" from which psychiatric
screening, diagnoses and their treatment are derived. The current
edition lists 374 psychiatric conditions that have been identified
as mental disorders.
Yet, the disorders contained in the
DSM-IV are arrived at by consensus, not by scientific criteria.
There are no blood tests, brain scans, X-Rays, MRIs or "chemical
imbalance" tests that can scientifically validate any mental
"disorder" as a disease or illness. Canadian psychologist Tana
Dineen reports, "Unlike medical diagnoses that convey a probable
cause, appropriate treatment and likely prognosis, the disorders
listed in DSM-IV are terms arrived at through peer consensus"-
literally, a vote by APA committee members.
The "clinician" summarizes his report and comes up with an
Based on how the child answered the "suicide survey", and
which label the clinician conjured up and how the child did on his
"impairment score" the child is then sent off for
Drugs. A survey of
recently trained child psychiatrists found the treatment
for 9 out of 10 children consisted of drugging. (Journal of the
American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry 2002)
"treatment" used on children with these bogus labels can be found
"Treatment" is the long term goal for
TeenScreen according to their director, Laurie Flynn.
does the Food and Drug Administration say about these drugs? See
TeenScreen — no evidence of
TeenScreen officials admit that there have been no studies
that show that their program reduces suicide. That is not
surprising, because the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force report of May of 2004 states:
A. There is
no evidence that screening for suicide risk reduces suicide attempts
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 mortality.
D. No studies were found that
directly address the harms of screening and treatment for suicide
TeenScreen has no proof that their survey reduces suicide rates.
The co-director of TeenScreen Rob Caruano, says that suicides are so
rare that you'd have to screen the whole country to see a difference
in mortality between screened and unscreened
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
Psychiatrists are even coming forth saying
TeenScreen is unworkable. Nathaniel Lehrman says: "The claim by the director
of the TeenScreen Program that her program would significantly
reduce suicides is unsupported by the data. Indeed, such screenings
would probably cause more harm than good. It is impossible, on
cursory examination, or on the basis of the Program's brief written
screening test, to detect suicidality or "mental illness," however
we define it. "
So much for the workability of
There is no Suicide Epidemic
Child Suicides are Rare
Certainly any parent suffers a heavy burden of grief over the
loss of a child and our hearts go out to any family that suffers
such a tragedy.
However, the fact is suicide amongst children
is very rare. TeenScreen's sales pitch constantly stated is that
"Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death amongst children!" This
is the tactic they use to gain sympathy from parents and school
administrators and use this to create in the media, a suicide
hysteria, when in fact child suicides are very rare. For instance in
Florida, the number is 50 per year. Coincidentally, 50 is the same
number of people who are struck by lightning each year in Florida.
50 out of close to 4 million children is not an epidemic.
Suicides are on the decline. Suicide among American
youngsters and teens fell about 25 percent in the last decade. 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
Suicides generally have been on the decline since
1987. The rate of suicide for 19 years of age and younger is less
now than in 1981, reaching their most recent highest peak in 1988.
The true story is that the majority of child suicides in
Florida had been on psychotropic drugs or had already received
psychiatric treatment, which is completely consistent with the
recent flood of FDA and international warnings that these drugs can
create suicidal ideation.
There is no epidemic of suicide in
young people. The recent "suicide hysteria" is only the marketing
strategy of the suicide "prevention" industry, ie the very
controversial psychiatric based TeenScreen program.
Protection of Pupil Rights
is intended to protect the rights of parents and students in two
ways. It seeks to ensure that schools make psychological surveys
such as TeenScreen available for inspection by parents and seeks to
ensure that schools obtain written parental consent.
TeenScreen says that
if a local mental health screening program is approved by the Board
of Education as part of the educational program, they are not
required to get active parental consent under PPRA
The U.S. Department of
Education says TeenScreen's statement is not right and says the
question of whether "active" consent is required under PPRA is not
based on whether the program is part of the school's education
program. Rather, PPRA requires schools to obtain prior written
consent ("active") before a student is required to take a survey
that is funded by the U.S. Department of Education (in whole or in
part) and that asks questions such as the above questions TeenScreen
poses to children.
The Visible Players
Origin of TeenScreen? A drug company paid
TeenScreen was developed by psychiatrist David Shaffer.
Shaffer is a consultant (see
page 21 of this Executive Summary report) and apologist of
pharmaceutical companies. Shaffer has served as an expert witness
for various drug companies and a consultant on various psychotropic
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sent
out a press
release on May 8, 2000, that said Shaffer was their president
and they had just released a national survey they had done on
suicide. The funder of the survey? A pharmaceutical company.
Shaffer's American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has also
from yet another drug company.
Shaffer attempted to block negative British
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. According to a December 11, 2003,
New York Times article,
article, Shaffer tried to block the agencies effort to warn parents
and protect children. The newspaper reports that Shaffer, at the
request of a maker of psychotropic drugs, sent a letter to the
British drug agency saying that there was insufficient data to
restrict the use of the drugs in adolescents.
Shaffer on TeenScreen's False
Shaffer says that TeenScreen "does identify a whole bunch of
kids who aren’t really suicidal, so you get a lot of
false-positives. And that means if you’re running a large program at
a school, you’re going to cripple the program because you’re going
to have too many kids you have to do something about."
Shaffer was asked how he addresses people who question the dangers
of prescribing to the false-positives, he says: "I think that
standing by itself that criticism is meaningless because we don’t
know what harm the antidepressants do, if any, and we don’t know who
they do harm to".
Shaffer on the DSM (TeenScreen is based on the
Shaffer was one of the psychiatrists who had a hand in
"developing" the thoroughly discredited DSM - Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Psychiatry's Bible). In a National Public Radio interview, (August 18, 2003)
Shaffer described the process:
"People (psychiatrists) would
shout out their opinions from all sides of the room and whoever
shouted loudest tended to be heard. My own impression, coming
straight from England, was it was more like a tobacco auction than a
sort of conference"
David (No Science behind Screening)
The National Academies, (Advisers to the Nation on Science,
Engineering and Medicine) scheduled a debate for Wednesday, Feb. 22,
2006. The topic: "Screening for Mental Illness in Youth: Good
Preventive Medicine?" David Shaffer was scheduled to debate Vera
Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection. Shaffer
chickened out and cancelled his appearance. Ms. Sharav carried on
without Shaffer. Sharav: "Dr. Shaffer, the architect of TeenScreen,
and its promoters ceaselessly claim that evidence underlies mass
screening efforts. If there is evidence, why has he refused to
present it?" See Ms. Sharav debate the absent TeenScreen
psychiatrist in this video.
TeenScreen's Director: Laurie Flynn
Laurie Flynn, TeenScreen's director,
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.
Flynn has a tough time selling TeenScreen. TeenScreen has resorted
to luring kids with movie rental coupons and food and drink coupons, simply for the return of a
release form, whether or not the student agrees to be screened.
Flynn perjured herself in a Capitol Hill Hearing on
March 2, 2004, in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and
Pensions Committee on Bill H.R. 3063, when she testified: "In
partnership with the University of South Florida we are piloting
district wide mental health screening of 9th graders in Hillsborough
and Pinellas counties". But in fact, the day before Flynn's
testimony, the Hillsborough County School District said they were
not partnering with TeenScreen, did not feel comfortable with the
information provided by TeenScreen and had serious concerns about
TeenScreen including liability and risk issues. In Pinellas County,
TeenScreen is prohibited from doing their suicide survey because
Board policy protects the identity of students when surveys are
done. In addition, the Pinellas County School Board Superintendent,
Dr. Clayton Wilcox, has serious reservations about partnering with such an
E-mails are public record in Florida if sent
to a government agency. Here is one example of Flynn's "confidential" e-mails. She says she needs a horse
to ride and she needs those kids screened!
Flynn should learn
to just say no to drugs .
TeenScreen's Co-Director: Leslie
Mcguire's presentation at the
national NAMI convention June 2005:
"Getting the kids to buy
in is such an essential thing because for the most part, you're
distributing the consent forms to the kids to bring home to their
parents and bring them back. So you have to get their buy in, you
have to get them interested in it." When asked about "incentives",
McGuire replied: "Hollywood Video coupons, you get that regardless.
Even if the form says no, you still get the reward."
been talking a bit about this campaign of mis-information that's
going on. And we do need your help, so what I'm going to do is I'm
going to pass around a blank notebook here. And if anyone in this
room would be willing to be contacted if umm there if, if there was
a sort of a uprising against screening in your community we have
lots of people throughout the country who - ya' know - there might
already be screening going on in your community, we may ask you to
write a letter to the editor in support of screening. We could
possibly ask you to go to a school board meeting, umm something like
that. Obviously this would be your choice, but, we are starting to
create really a response network and an e-mail list sorta' kinda
thing, to keep people in the loop on this, ummm, so I'll pass it
around and if you're interested please sign up."
William J. Ruane
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" (see bottom of
reference) with Shaffer. In June of 1995 the Ruanes funded a
professorship of Pediatric Psychopharmacology which "supported
training and research into the effectiveness of
psychopharmacological agents in treating childhood psychiatric
The Psychiatric Times reported in March of 1998
that Ruane and wife Joy, gave 1.5 million to study the effects of
psychiatric drugs 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 a
powerful mood-altering drug and failed to tell the children or their
parents about the most serious risks. While testing the drug 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 this drug on young children including
one funded by a large pharmaceutical company.
TeenScreen Sales Duo, (Florida Region)
Shern and Justin Doan
In Florida, David
Shern and his sidekick, Justin Doan, both of the Florida
Mental Health Institute attempted to lobby the Pinellas County School Board to change
it's policy on anonymous surveys of children. Shern wanted the
school board policy changed so that he could obtain the names
of children after the suicide survey was done on them. He did not
want student surveys to be anonymous, as they are now under existing
Shern, Doan and company received $180,000
to sell TeenScreen to the local school boards. Shern and his FMHI
have also raked in cash from pharmaceutical companies to study
anti-psychotic drugs: $381,664
from a major pharmaceutical company and $130,416
The Tampa Tribune posed some good questions on
March 7, 2004: "What if someone at risk is identified, but there's
no one who can help? What if the test misses someone at risk? What
if the test falsely identifies someone who isn't at
"Liability comes up immediately," Shern
On March 22, 2004, Laurie Flynn, TeenScreen's Director,
said in a "confidential
e-mail" that she had concerns about Shern and his inability to
get TeenScreen going in Florida. She said that Doan was a concern,
that he's young, full of himself and not very politically savvy. She
said that he had never screened a kid or run a project and that when
he goes into meetings with local school officials he gets into deep
Foster Care report warns of
adverse side effects of drugs on children
A report entitled "Psychotropic
Drug Use in Foster Care", by the Florida Statewide Advocacy
Council, discovered that of the 1,180 children reviewed 652 were on
one or more psychotropic drugs. The report warned of the side
effects of these drugs including suicidal tendencies. The report
concluded that unnecessary dispensing of psychotropic drugs remains
a threat to the children. They recommended that their findings be
incorporated into an agenda in order to preserve and protect the
health, safety, welfare and rights of children.
Pharmaceutical Industry Front
TeenScreen refuses to divulge the source of their funding.
Their website says they are funded by private family foundations,
corporations and individuals without naming them. One corner of the
Internet did give a clue to their funding: A large pharmaceutical
company funded the TeenScreen program in Tennessee. (See page 4, left,
According to their 10 year strategy,
TeenScreen wants to make the suicide survey available to all
American children. Their long
term goal is psychiatric "treatment" of our
Since 1991, the Division of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry has invested nearly
$19 million in the "research" and development of the TeenScreen
program. Who will reap the returns?
TeenScreen says that 24% of the kids
that are referred after screening are drugged. That percentage may
be much higher.
No wonder drug companies are tripping over
themselves wanting to sponsor Screening.
In Colorado over 350
youths were suicide screened using TeenScreen's survey. They found
that over 50% were at risk of suicide and 71% screened positive for
psychiatric disorders at a youth homeless shelter. That's not
science! That's a dream come true for pharmaceutical company
marketing types and bean counters.
TEENSCREEN - SIMPLY
On March 29, 2006, New York City TeenScreen sales
personnel were sent to Anaheim, California to deliver a sales pitch
to thousands of psychologists from across the nation who were
attending the annual convention of the National Association of
School Psychologists. They unexpectedly encountered heavy opposition
to their plan to screen every child in the United States. Instead of
agreement with their "program", TeenScreen was met with: 125
picketers, TV reporters on the scene, radio interviews of
protestors, Psychologists agreeing with the picketers, Psychologists
disagreeing with child drugging, Picket signs such as: “Educate,
Don’t Medicate”, “Hug me. Don’t drug me”, “I’m just a Teen, not
Berryhill Senior High School, Tulsa,
Spring 2005 - 257 Consent forms sent to parents. Only 36
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
According to a story published in the Philadelphia Inquirer
on February 9, 2006, only 68 sophomores out of about 960 in both
schools took the test in 2005. Only 7%. In 2006, at Cherry Hill
West, where all 1,600 students were to be screened only 27 parents
consented. A mere 1.68%.
Hillsborough County, Florida
School officials did not
feel comfortable with the information provided by TeenScreen to
implement it anywhere in the district and did not have all their
questions answered by the organization. They stated that TeenScreen
continued to say to others that Hillsborough County had "partnered"
with them when, in fact, they were only exploring. Officials in
Hillsborough County had serious concerns about TeenScreen including
confidentiality, the "capacity" in the community for follow up
mental services for identified students, the lack of information
from other school districts, the lack of written agreements with
community mental health providers, "ill defined" levels of "at risk"
concerns as a result of the screenings, the lack of a well defined
"continuity of care" and liability for the school district.
Jenks Freshman Academy, Tulsa,
The TeenScreen was only conducted at Jenks Freshman Academy
one time in February/March 2003. Jenks Public Schools dropped
TeenScreen primarily because the school was not given access to the
statistical data that resulted.
Las Vegas, Nevada
About 20 people from the Libertarian Party of Clark
County, Nevada showed up at county school district headquarters
to protest mental health screening of children, reported the Law
Vegas Review Journal on August 20, 2005. "Maybe the kid is having a
bad day that day. They'll say he's depressed and screen them," said
activist Rebecca Iocca.
Teresa and Michael Rhoades, parents in Osceola, Indiana
became aware that their daughter was "suicide screened" without any
parental consent whatsoever. TeenScreen used what they call passive
consent, a skimpy form with no warnings. Parents who did not
sign the form and return it were considered to have given
permission. The trouble is Teresa and Michael did not receive the
passive consent form. Teresa
Rhoades became active in informing citizens in her area that
TeenScreen had infiltrated their school system. Local TV and
newspaper covered Teresa's story. One newspaper reported about a
half-page ad that ran in the paper there against TeenScreen: "The ad
says diagnosis of psychological problems is entirely subjective and
there is no evidence that screening for suicide risk reduces suicide
On February 28th, 2005, the Superintendent
recommended in front of concerned
parents that TeenScreen be suspended pending a thorough study
and also recommended that "passive consent" be abolished.
June 9, 2005, the South Bend Tribune reported that Teresa and Michael filed papers to
sue the Madison Center and also Penn-Harris-Madison School
Corporation. They claim their daughter took the test, was improperly
diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety
disorder. The family intends to seek the "maximum amount of
The Elkhart Truth reported on February 02, 2006
that protestors carried signs outside Penn High School,
emphasizing their point for the school not to use a
On February 9, 2006, the Philadelphia Inquirer
reported that parents consenting to TeenScreen at this school
district fell dramatically. Only 35 of about 830 10th graders signed
up - only 4.2%.
On January 25, 2005, the Pinellas County School Board decided
in front of many concerned citizens that TeenScreen should not be
implemented there. School Board member Jane Gallucci said that she
was angry that Laurie Flynn told a U.S. Senate committee on health
and education matters 10 months ago that pilot TeenScreen programs
were operating in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Board
Chairwoman Nancy Bostock called the program "an intrusion for our
students.'' False labels could embarrass students and cause turmoil
at home. "We could seriously do more harm than good," she
Monroe County, Pennsylvania
TeenScreen isn't getting much use in Monroe County,
Pennsylvania. That's according to the Pocono Record who said on
January 15, 2006 that TeenScreen is hampered there with little
parental cooperation. Only 1 to 7 percent consent to having their
children screened. The Record said that apparently it's because
parents fear their children will be labeled mentally ill.
Pinellas County, Florida
According to the St. Petersburg Times, February 6,
2005, Ken Kramer spearheaded opposition to TeenScreen in Pinellas
County. Kramer saw the program as a thinly veiled attempt to get
more kids into the psychiatric system and on psychotropic drugs.
That, he said, is the real cause of high rates of teen suicide.
Kramer encouraged friends to e-mail the School Board and argue
against TeenScreen. Bombarded with more than 700 e-mails, the board
voted 6-1 not to go with TeenScreen. The lone school board member
said that she believed most of the e-mails came from people who
believe that psychiatrists are drug pushers, abusive and cause
Just contact us with your story on TeenScreen and we will
include it here.
West Burlington Jr./Sr. High (Iowa)
"We did not make a board presentation since last year was
considered a trial for the district. Our official statement to the press is: We believe
that as a small-sized school, we can monitor our students well
enough to be proactive in directing parents to community resources
for help." Ron Teater, Principal, West Burlington Jr./Sr. High
YOUR SCHOOL'S INFORMATION
SETTING THE RECORD
1. Does the TeenScreen Program endorse
mental health screening for all teens?
of TeenScreen is to screen every child in the United States by the
time they're out of high school. According to TeenScreen's Director,
Laurie Flynn, their long term goal is "treatment" for "those in need."
2. Does TeenScreen recommend
TeenScreen materials say they make no treatment
recommendations. However, let's pose this question: If you have a
child who's been asked a battery of potentially upsetting questions,
has been labeled with a bogus "mental disorder", has been assigned a
certain "impairment score" and then referred to a psychiatrist, what
do you think the treatment will be? When TeenScreen says they do not
recommend treatment it's like the gallows builder saying he didn't
hang that man!
3. Is TeenScreen free?
TeenScreen's promotional materials claim their suicide survey
is free. Gwen Luney, assistant superintendent for supportive
services and federal programs at Hillsborough County (Florida)
TeenScreen would cost the school district roughly $200,000 a
year -- $200K they don't have. "We're hesitant to commit to a new
program if there's a strong possibility we'll be seeing some [money]
shortfalls. Also, are we going to find a place for this [diagnosed]
child to go? If so, what if the child doesn't have insurance? Who
picks up the cost? Does it get passed on to the county? It can't be
passed on to the school district. And the liability factor is
greater now that you've identified [the at-risk student]."
Even at a very small high school like Brimfield High School,
in the Peoria, Illinois area, the cost is not cheap. According to a
Peoria Journal Star article dated
July 11, 2004 "organizing the system and employing a part-time
counselor specifically for the program is estimated to cost about
$100 per student... The Brimfield High School program alone will
cost around $20,000 for the first semester."
4. Where are all the schools that use
It's all a big secret. According to TeenScreen's director
Leslie McGuire, they are fearful there will be an uprising against
mental health screening, therefore TeenScreen refuses to divulge
their locations. They use a canned e-mail message: "We get a lot of
requests from people who are interested in locating and speaking
directly with local TeenScreen sites and this can become a burden on
them. We are not authorized to give out our sites contact
information unless we have requested their permission to do so."
5. What is "passive consent"? What does this
Passive Consent is way to get around written parental consent
and an effective method to get more children screened. Passive
consent requires parents to return a form only
if they do not want their child to participate in the screening.
According to an e-mail
sent by a school official concerning implementation of TeenSceen,
"The interest would be to screen as many as possible, beginning in
9th grade. The Passive acceptance style was mostly discussed to
increase the numbers from 50% for Consent to near 95% for
This means if a parent does not open the mail or was
too busy to study the form and return it or if a child as young as 9
years old loses the form on the way home, then TeenScreen will
accept that as "parental consent".
A federal law known as the
Protection of Pupil Rights Act, requires written parental consent
before a child undergoes a survey, analysis or evaluation. A
TeenScreen newsletter discusses
making screening a matter of the schools curriculum as a method to
bypass this law and use passive consent instead.
to Leslie McGuire, TeenScreen's director, 25% of their programs
use passive consent.
Passive consent is controversial and
has already upset parents. Teresa
Rhoades is one parent who found out about "passive consent" but
only after it was too late.
Has your child received a mental
health screening without your written permission? Contact
6. Are student records confidential?
No. TeenScreen officials require that all screening
results be shared with them. TeenScreen says that various personnel
such as school officials, various organizations conducting certain
studies and other "appropriate officials" may be privy to student
records and that "Screening personnel should determine with the
school officials whether or not they are permitted access to student
records without the formal consent of parents".
7. Does talking about suicide encourage
teens to attempt suicide?
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force report
of May of 2004, no studies were found that directly address the
harms of screening and treatment for suicide risk.
8. Is the pharmaceutical industry behind
Absolutely. Their national advisory council is full of major
pharmaceutical company connections.
9. How prevalent is suicide in
It's very rare. For example the number is 50 per year out of
over 3.5 million students in the State of Florida. Coincidentally,
the number 50 is the same number of people who get hit by lightning
in Florida each year.
10. Do children screened using the
TeenScreen suicide survey wind up on dangerous
Absolutely. 9 out of 10 children referred to psychiatrists
are prescribed psychotropic drugs.
11. What can I do?
E-mail your school district superintendent and ask if
TeenScreen has been implemented or if there are any plans to
implement it. Keep things in writing. If the answer is yes, alert
other parents and voice your opposition. Let us know what you find
out and what you are doing about it. File a "parental informed
consent notice" with your child's school. Click here for a
No Child Left Unmedicated
Grateful acknowledgement is made to Phyllis Schlafly for
permission to reproduce the following 2 paragraphs from her article
No Child Left Unmedicated, March 1, 2005. Phyllis is a columnist,
commentator, author, and founder of the Eagle Forum.
rights are unclear or nonexistent under these mental health
screening programs. What are the rights of youth and parents to
refuse or opt out of such screening? Will they face coercion and
threats of removal from school, or child neglect charges, if they
refuse privacy-invading interrogations or unproved medications? How
will a child remove a stigmatizing label from his records?
pilot project for screening students, called TeenScreen, resulted in
one-third of the subjects being flagged as "positive" for mental
health problems. Half of those were turned over for mental health
treatment. If that is a preview of what would happen when 52 million
public school students are screened, it would mean hanging a
libelous label on 17 million American children and forcibly putting
8 million children into the hands of the psychiatric/pharmaceutical
It is time the American public squarely
confronts TeenScreen's insidious assault on our children.
Researcher Ken Kramer firstname.lastname@example.org
"Unelected school boards should not presume to
have the authority to place psychiatry, which is highly
controversial, into the public school system. Concerned Women
for America of Mississippi takes the position that mental
health should not be associated with or appear to be
associated with public school property or with any public
Concerned Women for America of Mississippi
The Arizona Republic
"Programs like TeenScreen experiment on kids,
who will eventually end up on psychotropic drugs...I went
through what I went through because they were on
Survivor - Columbine High
"Authorities in schools should be very cautious about
these kinds of screening programs. It is easy to overidentify
adolescents with problems, when they in fact don't have any
problems. This in itself creates more problems."
Chairman of the Psychology in Education
University of Pittsburgh.
"We should ask ourselves: What kind of people would we
have become if the government tested us and forced our parents
to drug us in order to settle us down?"
"Big Brother is on the march. A plan to subject all
children to mental health screening is under way, and
pharmaceutical companies are gearing up for bigger sales of
Analyst and Author
"It's just a way to put more people on prescription
drugs... such programs will boost the sale of antidepressants
... even after the FDA in September ordered a black box label
warning that the pills might spur suicidal thoughts or actions
Harvard Medical School
"What are the credentials of the screeners? Most
importantly, how many children have they raised to adulthood,
and with what outcome?"
—Dr. Jane M. Orient
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
"The pharmaceutical companies have been heavily
involved in pushing programs like this, and they have an
obvious, overt economic interest...They'll sell a lot more
drugs if they can get more people diagnosed and put on them.
We ought to be concerned about that."
Future of Freedom Foundation
Cheslea Rhoades took the test at her Osceola, Ind., high
school last month, a clinician told her she demonstrated
social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. She was
stunned. So was her mom. "My daughter is an honor-roll
student. She's in five clubs. There's nothing wrong with this
kid," said Teresa Rhoades, Chelsea's
Chairwoman Nancy Bostock called the program "an intrusion for
our students." False labels could embarrass students and cause
turmoil at home. "We could seriously do more harm than good,"
school board member Jane Gallucci...said Tuesday that she was
angry that Laurie Flynn told a U.S. Senate committee on health
and education matters 10 months ago that pilot TeenScreen
programs were operating in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
important to understand that powerful interests, namely
federal bureaucrats and pharmaceutical lobbies, are behind the
push for mental health screening in schools...the
pharmaceutical industry is eager to sell psychotropic drugs to
millions of new customers in American
— Rep. Ron
I see it
as stepping into my role as a mom," said Pam Wheeler, who has
a freshman and a senior at Des Moines' Lincoln High School, an
Iowa TeenScreen site. "If these are 15-and 16-year-old kids,
depending on the day of the week, or of the month, if they
didn't make cheerleading or something, how does that affect
this screening?" she asked.
paraphrase Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," the fault is not in
our children's brains or genes, but in ourselves, and it is to
our own treatment of children we must look to find an answer
to their problems - and ours.
Review of Existential Psychology &
claim children are suffering from a 'chemical imbalance', the
cornerstone of psychiatry's disease model, is nothing more
than a myth."
Citizens Commission on Human Rights UK
"Scientific truth cannot be suppressed permanently.
Eventually it will be widely known that people with normal
brains can become mad by living in toxic social environments,
and that the best therapy is based on caring relationships. I
say this with trepidation because any criticism of the current
chemical model brings angry denunciation from
Emeritus professor, University of Vermont
to start placing the blame for the rise in teen suicide where
it belongs; on the greedy bastards involved in programs like
TeenScreen who invent schemes to get our kids hooked on these
dangerous drugs in the first place.
to Florida Secretary of State
the concerns of many of the proponents of this bill who draw
attention to the all too frequent use of pharmaceuticals for
children whose health and behavioral problems may benefit from
other forms of intervention. Further, I am a firm supporter of
parental notification in all types of medical care provided to
listened to constituents on this issue, I heard real fear in
their voices . . . that their kids would be labeled"
State Senator, Illinois
Journal of Psychiatry
of recently trained child psychiatrists found that only one in
10 children in their practices does not receive a
—Lawrence Diller, M.D.
soon, we'll have a syndrome for short, fat Irish guys with a
Boston accent, and I'll be mentally ill."
Professor of psychiatry, Johns Hopkins
"Psychiatry has a long history of abject failure.
Psychiatric treatments - drugs, electroconvulsive therapy,
lobotomies - have harmed millions and robbed them of any hope
of a normal life."
"Psychiatrists have been searching for more than a
century for some biological marker for mental disease, to
antidepressant and 'everybody's depressed' message was spun by
a greedy pharmaceutical industry and a myopic medical
profession. Stop the widespread use of antidepressants as they
are eroding our wellbeing and dismiss life as a simple spark
of synaptic electricity."
view, mental health can have other dimensions - societal and
even spiritual dimensions that the government could not
Concerned Women for America
groups like Ablechild.org and EdAction, these opponents want
to prohibit schools from having anything to do with students'
mental health, saying it is the job of parents to ensure their
of school-based mental health programs point to parents who
say their children have been misdiagnosed with mental health
problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), and forced to take medication to attend classes after
school officials pressured them to get psychological care.
of giving the test to some students without parental
permission, has put TeenScreen in the hot seat. Friday, a
lawsuit outlining these complaints was filed in federal court
in the Northern District of Indiana in South Bend by a
Northern Indiana couple and their 16-year-old daughter. They
charge that the test violates parental and child rights at
federal and Indiana levels and invades privacy.
need to understand that there are some immediate steps which
can be taken to combat the increasing problem of government
encroaching into the privacy of the family. First, it’s
critical to learn your rights as a parent. Second, contact
your local school officials and demand that you be notified
immediately if they are planning to conduct mental health
screening on your children. Finally, follow the Rhoades’
example and fight back against this encroachment on parental
—John W. Whitehead
Founder of The Rutherford Institute
September 25, 2005
without direct parental consent, children undergo
controversial, subjective and dubious screening for mental
illness. Some of the results have been unwarranted diagnosis,
misdiagnosis and the labeling of many children with a mental
School and the Law
November 2, 2005
growing opposition to the notion that schools should perform
mental health screening. Groups like Concerned Women for
America express fears that schools might make screening
mandatory and that the pharmaceutical industry is encouraging
this practice to open up a larger market for psychotropic
Fond du Lac
(Wis.) School District
critics worry that TeenScreen will funnel too many kids into
treatment and lead to overuse of medication, with possibly
sort of astonishing," said Laurie Flynn, executive director of
TeenScreen, which stopped disclosing the names of schools
using the survey because the districts are peppered with
e-mails denouncing it."
recent months, there are signs that the backlash against
TeenScreen may have diminished enthusiasm for mental health
“I see an
amazing rebellion stirring that cuts across usual political
lines. A federal bureaucrat recently called this a "curious
coalition" in the media. We are seeing traditionally
conservative groups working together with progressive social
justice and libertarian groups. The psychiatric drug companies
have overextended themselves, and the general public is
showing signs of waking up. I just hope they wake up very
Director of MindFreedom
reason for this difference between psychiatry and other
medical specialties has more to do with ideology than with
science. A brief peek at both areas makes this point clear.
All medicine rests on the premise that disease is a
manifestation of diseased tissue. Hepatitis comes down to an
inflamed liver, while lung tissue infiltrated with
pneumococcus causes pneumonia. Every medical student learns
this principle. Where, though, is the diseased tissue in
Psychiatrist and philosopher -
teaches at UCLA
a program that has some very vocal critics. They say
Teenscreen usurps parental authority, sends kids to therapy
who might not need it and they say the program encourages
families to put adolescents on antidepressant
“Moreover, the test has a disorder label for the most
ordinary of behaviors, having technical terms for simple
laziness and arguing with parents, both qualities that most
children and young adults have experienced at some
going to screen these kids, slap a label on them, and then
President of the
Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania
"According to TeenScreen, approximately one-third of
students taking the test will score “positive” for mental
illness. Up to 84 percent of those “positives” will end up
being “false positives.” Doing the math, this could mean that
for every 100 students screened, 33 will test as having a
mental illness, and 28 of those 33 may discover they were
identified by mistake. Talk about depressing! "
Dispatch should get behind high-school curriculum reform and
good parenting, not TeenScreen. The best screening mechanism
is concerned and caring adults who have common sense. Kids are
happy when they are doing what they love and when someone
loves them enough to pay attention."
views Shern and other TeenScreen supporters as fronts for drug
companies seeking to generate consumers for their products.
"They're not the hangmen," he said. "They're the
gallows-builders. They lead them [children] to the psych
"Implementation of screening programs such as
TeenScreen has not been proven to prevent suicide, although
they potentially bring many more customers to the mental
Research, National Home Education Legal
health lobbyists backed by millions of pharmaceutical dollars
have already pushed for government support to adopt their
agenda. The federal New Freedom Commission on Mental Health
Initiative is an existing plan to have all Americans screened
for mental illness."
one has been living in a cave the past 20 years, one knows
that youth with psychological / behavioral / learning problems
are likely to be referred for psychotropic medications. If
this is so, it should, in effect, be considered to be one of
the major “purposes” of youth screening. There is, however,
ample evidence that medicating youth is too dangerous and
ineffective in comparison to the dozens of non-drug
alternatives. Encouraging screening as presently constituted
simply encourages children to be put on medications-- with no
idea what this will do to the suicide rate, and with some
indications that it could “increase” suicide.”
Professor of Social