Monday, November 27, 2006

NAUGHTY KIDS NEED DISCIPLINE NOT DRUGS

 
17 November 2006
NAUGHTY KIDS NEED DISCIPLINE NOT DRUGS
Paul Routledge

I SEEM to have stirred up a hornet's nest by doubting the existence of so-called Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

One reader, who claims two children with ADHD, accuses me of "hurtful, unhelpful comments".

Another points out that children today sorely lack discipline.

And I hear from South Wales of a family whose "very modest" demand is for a three bedroom council house because one of their two sons might have the disorder. This is obviously a very divisive issue. It is also a hidden scandal.

Let's look at the facts. ADHD was first described by a Dr Friedrich Hoffman in 1845, in his book of poems about "Fidgety Philip". The symptoms were inattention, fidgeting, restlessness - and noisily tapping pencils.

This sounds like most children in my experience. They can't sit still, and their attention span is shorter than a politician's.

Over a century later, doctors in the US - who get paid in proportion to the treatment they say is necessary - realised this syndrome is a goldmine. ADHD was unknown in my childhood, but like so many Yankee ideas it soon crossed the Atlantic. And if we are to believe the medical profession, there are now 366,000 sufferers under the age of 18 in the UK.

Official figures from the Department of Health show that more than 1,000 prescriptions for powerful drugs are doled out every day to treat behavioural disorders in children. GPs prescribed drugs such as Ritalin, known as the "chemical cosh", on 384,000 occasions last year - a fourfold increase since 1997. An estimated 32,000 children are being drugged every day, at a cost to the NHS of £13.5million a year.

A whole generation is in danger of becoming drug-dependent because parents and doctors want to "medicalise" bad behaviour, rather than control it through diet, discipline and parental devotion. Consultant child psychiatrist Dr Sami Timimi argues that medicalisation of childhood problems is due to a search for "an easy cure that fits in with our fast lifestyles and gives us a quick answer".

Real-life TV programmes also glorify misbehaved children, and pander to the hand-wringing inadequacy of parents. Stroppy Johnny makes good telly, but it also encourages imitative behaviour.

So far, so bad. But I also learn that drug companies secretly fund support groups for parents of kids diagnosed with behavioural problems. In other words, they are fuelling this Ritalin bonanza - despite evidence linking their very profitable drugs to sudden deaths and heart problems.

Even Health minister Andy Burnham accepts that there is "limited information" about the long-term effects of these drugs.

I am not a doctor, and do not pretend to medical knowledge. But my sense of smell is unimpaired, and this business stinks.


1 comment:

Hendrawan said...

i agree with this article. its parents resposibility to make their children a good one. it is not necessary to use drugs to make naughty kids become good one.