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TEEN-SCREEN AND THE CREATED CRISIS
PART 1 of 2

 

 

By Lynn Stuter

December 24, 2005

NewsWithViews.com

A spate of articles have appeared recently in newspapers across the country focusing on youth suicide. Included in the majority of those articles is mention of TeenScreen, a program emanating from Columbia University. TeenScreen brags, on their website, of their presence in all but a few of the fifty states (Alabama, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming).

Before going further, it seems prudent to examine the incidence of youth suicide over a several year period. We shall use the most up-to-date data, coming from the Centers for Disease Control, starting in the year 1981 and ending in 2002. This data is for all races, both sexes, with an age range of 0 to 19 years of age. The numbers represent deaths per 100,000 populace in the given age range.

Suicides in the given cohort are less now than they were in 1981, reaching their highest peak in 1988. So, pray tell, why is there a “crisis” now when there obviously wasn’t in the peak year of 1988?

We can find the answer in the cover letter of the Presidents New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (NFC). It is of interest to note, at this point, that Michael Hogan who headed the Presidents New Freedom Commission on Mental Health is also on the advisory council of TeenScreen. Are we to believe that Hogan’s position as head of the New Freedom Commission is not connected to the recognition TeenScreen received in the NFC report; and the benefit TeenScreen will obviously incur as a result of that recognition?

The cover letter to the NFC report, signed by Michael Hogan, states,

“You charged the Commission to study the mental health service delivery system, and to make recommendations that would enable adults with serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbance to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. We have completed the task.”

The created crisis: children with serious emotional disturbance must be able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. Of course, while that sounds wonderful, the proof is in the pudding so to speak and what we have found, repeatedly, with the transformation of any system, is that the system is not about helping those caught in it, but rather, is about meeting its goals (exit outcomes). In this capacity, the people caught in the system become nothing more than fodder in a grist mill with accountability being to the system, not to the people.

Quite obviously, the crisis having been created, TeenScreen is there to save the day and certainly reap the profit. After claiming the TeenScreen program to be based on research, one newspaper, The St Louis Post-Dispatch, actually printed a retraction, stating,

“The TeenScreen program was developed by Columbia University in 1991. Its creator said it was based on studies of teens who had committed suicide. The program is not based on more recent research involving brain imaging, as was suggested in a report on the front page of Sunday's editions.” (posted December 13, 2005)

Too much of what is being passed off as research today, quoted liberally and incessantly and supported by so-called experts, meets the adage that a lie repeated often enough becomes truth.

As an example of present-day research, consider this: When the early childhood initiative came to Washington State, the research supposedly backing this initiative was never referred to by name but spoken of thusly, “We now know …” obviously to give it the air of authority.

But what did we know? How did we know it? Who did the research? Under what conditions and criteria did they do the research? Is the research valid and reliable? All pertinent questions that needed to be asked and answered.

Research, to be credible, reliable and valid, must follow certain criteria:

1. It must be conducted by an independent entity — one that is not connected by association, practice, or finances to the program being studied.

2. There must be an observable research design. That means:

a. That a control group (not in the studied program) and an experimental group (in the program) are used which are in every conceivable way identical except for the program being evaluated.

b. That the groups are sufficiently large to draw conclusions.

c. That the conditions under which the program is conducted are not biased toward either the control or experimental group (for example, both groups gets equal instructional time).

d. That the program be of adequate duration to fairly examine it.

e. And that the evaluation of the program results be conducted in an objective, neutral manner.

3. The results must be reproducible. Another research team, operating separately, must be able to obtain the same results using the same methodology.

4. The results cited must be directly traceable to the program being studied (for example, if a patient is given a new medicine and shows improvement, but continues to improve after the medicine is discontinued, then a researcher cannot conclude that the new medicine was the reason for the improvement of the patient).

5. Program results must be evaluated externally and objectively, not in a closed circle where the program is only tested against criteria it establishes. For example, tests are written to exactly match an OBE curriculum and no other testing instruments are allowed to judge the success of the new program. The program's claims of success must be observable through outside measurements.

I requested of the governor’s office the research to which he was continually referring as “We now know …” What I received was a stack of magazine articles. This was the “research” supporting the early childhood initiative. It was very obvious, in the absence of any valid and reliable research, that the early childhood initiative was not in the best interests of parents or children; that it was nothing more than a political agenda.

It is important, at this point, to digress for a moment. Ask yourself this — when has any social issue, in which the government became involved, ever been cured or resolved? Let’s see, since the Johnson Administration, back in the early 1960’s, we’ve had, for example, the War on Poverty. Then there’s been the War on Drugs since the 1980’s. Have either of these so-called “wars” been won? No. You have to ask yourself, with the billions (or is that trillions?) of taxpayer dollars that have been poured into these so-called “wars”, why not?

Maybe the better question would be, why would they? After all, if the problem is cured, the government doesn’t need that money and with the problem cured, the size of government would logically shrink. Does shrinking in size serve the interests of government? No, of course not. Government as an entity seeks power and position. It can only do that if it grows and can continually justify that growth and the need for further growth. Our Founding Fathers intended a limited form of government, the size of which to be curtailed by a people who wished to remain free. To this end, our United States Constitution gave to the congress very limited powers (Article I, Section 8) and many limitations (Article I, Section 9). To protect states’ rights, the Tenth Amendment was the last amendment of the Bill of Rights reserving to the people and states those powers not expressing delegated to the United States.

But the intent of the U.S. Constitution would only stand if people took an active role in maintaining the limited form of government. And that has not happened. The result has been a continually growing government that has developed a voracious appetite for power and position. To that end, the government will do that which serves its purposes, irrespective. And curing social problems is not in its best interests, especially when there is no accountability for the money spent and there hasn’t been. This is why the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs have never been won; why not one social problem in which the government has become involved has ever gotten better. Now we have the War on Terrorism and that one promises to cost more than all of the others combined and will never be won either.

Remember after Hurricane Katrina, and after the half-baked, totally bungled response by FEMA, President Bush going on record to say the federal government needed more authority to deal with disasters like this? That remark wasn’t about saving lives, property or anything else; that remark was about more money, more power, more growth in federal government. Taxpayer money is not being spent to cure problems, taxpayer money is being spent to subsidize problems because that is the only way government can justify bigger and more intrusive government.

What do we actually know today about brain function? What we actually know, as opposed to think, is that we do not know enough about how the brain functions to state definitives in this regard. That, people, is what we know. Considering the intricacies of the brain, it is questionable whether we will ever know.

When Governor Gary Locke stated, “We now know …” his statement fell into the realm of a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. When I suggested to the Early Childhood Commission, established by the executive order of Governor Locke, that they bring Dr John Bruer, author of the Myth of the First Three Years to our state to address the commission, as they had brought Rob Reiner to the state, they declined. Why did they decline? What Dr Bruer would obviously have to say didn’t comport with the agenda of the Early Childhood Commission; an agenda that had nothing to do with what was best for parents or children but had everything to do with getting the government inside the home, increasing the power and position of the government, justifying more money, more growth, more power at the expense of the family.

Consider this comment, made by Rob Reiner on February 4, 1997, at the National Governor’s Association (NGA) conference, the same conference where Governor Locke obtained his “research”,

“They [the people of the US] are going to ask for... government coming into your home and telling you how to raise your children ... Then we as policy makers ... can say okay, these are the programs we can lay out for you ... I think there will be eventually a critical mass. It is just a matter of time.”

Government schools are no exception to the rule of government subsidizing problems. Today schools have school counselors, psychologists, and social workers. None of these individuals have passed a state medical exam that would be required of them to practice in the private sector. A clinician is someone who has successfully completed the rigorous education and training required to pass a state medical exam to practice as a licensed physician in a given field of medicine. That training is required in the best interests of the health and safety of the general public. And the time required for that education and training goes far beyond four years at a university or even two years post-graduate; it goes beyond obtaining a masters degree or even a doctorate degree.

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School counselors, psychologists and social workers do not have that rigorous training. They are minimally trained, do not have a license to practice medicine of any kind, and carry certification from the state department of education. That’s it. One of the articles appearing in The St Louis Post-Dispatch makes it appear that innocuous type activities such as screening children is all these people do. That is absolutely untrue. Counseling is what psychologists, social workers and counselors do, and that counseling involves assessing children, counseling children, and addressing mental and behavior issues. And the assessments these people make, the profiles they complete on children become part of that child’s “life-long” electronic transcript or dossier of accumulated information, all coded according to the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) SPEEDE/ExPRESS data element and subset codes. These electronic transcripts will be made available to prospective employers.

Click here for part -----> 2

Resources:

1, A Guide to Implementation of the SPEEDE/ExPRESS Electronic Transcript; Committee on the Standardization of Postsecondary Education Electronic Data Exchange (SPEEDE); American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers; Technical Advisory Group on the Exchange of Permanent Records Electronically for Students and Schools (ExPRESS); National Center for Education Statistics; Council of Chief State School Officers; May 1994.
2,
Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America; New Freedom Commission on Mental Health; 2003.
3,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports; 1981-1998
4,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports; 1999-2002.
5,
Danger Signs”; Paul Raeburn; The New York Times; December 5, 2005.
6,
The Genesis of President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health”; Sue Weibert; OpEdNews.com; December 15, 2005.
7,
Governor Locke’s Validated Research”; LEARN; Early Childhood Development and Learning; Lynn Stuter; 1998.
8,
High Skills, High Wages; Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (WTECB); Washington State; 1994; p 65.
9,
Meant to save lives; survey now under siege”; Bev McCarron, The Star-Ledger, December 13, 2005.
10,
Corrections”; St Louis Post-Dispatch; December 13, 2005.
11,
Recommendation and Rationale; Screening for Suicide Risk”; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), May 2004.
12,
Science tries to find secrets of teen brains”; St Louis Post-Dispatch; December 10, 2005.
13,
Screening Prompts Fears of False Labels”; St Louis Post-Dispatch; December 13, 2005.
14,
Suicide in the United States”; Jane Pearson, Ph.D.; National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); 2001.
15,
Teencreen website.
16,
Tyler, Ralph; Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction; Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1949; p 44.

© 2005 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved

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Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas.

Web site: www.learn-usa.com

E-Mail: lmstuter@learn-usa.com 


 

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Quite obviously, the crisis having been created, TeenScreen is there to save the day and certainly reap the profit.