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US Congress Passes Ban on Forcing Kids' Medication

The Associated Press reported on May 22, 2003 that the US Congress voted to prohibit schools from making children with behavioral problems take medication in order to attend class. According to this bill which passed 425-1, states receiving federal education money must make sure schools do not coerce parents into medicating their children.

Representative Max Burns of Georgia, who sponsored the legislation stated, "School personnel may have good intentions, but parents should never be required to decide between their child's education and keeping them off potentially harmful drugs." House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, a former schoolteacher, said he sympathizes with the need for orderly classrooms but said, "School personnel should never presume to know the medication needs of a child."

The bill, called the Child Medication Safety Act, provides for a congressional investigation into the use of psychotropic medication in schools. The bill was initiated because of reports that parents were being pressured to place their children on psychotropic drugs if it was interpreted that their child was disruptive or may show signs of hyperactivity. Testifying before a House panel in May, Dr. William B. Carey, director of behavioral pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, asked, "Why is eighty percent of the world's methylphenidate being fed to American children?" As Dr. Carey noted in his testimony, "These drugs have the potential for serious harm and abuse. They are listed on Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. They can lead to 'severe psychological or physical dependence'."