Doping difficult kids is wrong
Most children who do not fit the educational system need tolerance and patience - not the rod.
By Rose Prince
7:30AM BST 17 Sep 2011
While there is no doubt an urgent need to crack down on bad behaviour in schools, let’s not take it to extremes. ''Cane ’em,’’ say 49 per cent of parents, surveyed by You Gov. Are they serious? Imagine the teacher-training days and dictates over the correct way to thrash a child. The notion would be comic if it did not have such an unpleasant undertone.
More troubling are reports that new guidelines will mean children are at risk of being medicated to control their bad, inappropriate or unusual behaviour. In a speech to the TUC this week, Kate Fallon, general secretary of the Association of Educational Psychologists, warned that new criteria for the definition of mental illness, due to be adopted in 2013, may lead to many more children with what are currently regarded as common behavioural problems being diagnosed with mental disorders and prescribed powerful medication.
Her words suggest that a quick fix is planned for delinquency, invoking a gruesome picture of Generation Stepford: that boy isn’t an exuberant attention seeker, he must have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD,) so bring on the Ritalin; and while we’re at it, why not give it to the obstinate and rude one who sits next to him, too. As for that quiet girl who avoids class discussions, she’s surely anxious and depressed so dose her up with Prozac.
Many behavioural problems cannot be treated with drugs, however, but I am in favour of them being investigated so that the best treatment is given, if appropriate. An obstinate, oppositional child’s mind cannot be changed by drugs, but good management by trained adults can work wonders. The shy child should be monitored – sensitively – for underlying problems. If there is no apparent cause, indulge their shyness, but if they are clinically depressed, it may be right to turn to medication