TEEN-SCREEN AND THE CREATED CRISIS
PART 2 of 2
By Lynn Stuter
December 24, 2005
A document coming out of the Richland School District in Washington State a few years back contained bar codes that could be scanned for both children’s names and “observable behaviors.” These bar codes, part of the Learner Profile, were accessed using a forerunner to the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) — a hand-held portable device on which information can be entered, stored, and transferred to a computer. In the advertisement for the hardware and software, it is stated:
It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to figure out the “observables” that would be created by a school psychologist, counselor or social worker. Take that one step further and imagine the “observables” that could be created by an over-zealous school psychologist, counselor or social worker after being exposed to the TeenScreen screening form where the criteria for the various supposed disorders associated with suicide are listed. In an article published by The New York Times, the paper — referring to the work of the founder of TeenScreen, David Shafer, now chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University — stated,
Just imagine how many children could be labeled using that criteria?
How does a school and school district justify the salary and position of school social worker, psychologist or counselor? That can only happen if children continually need their services, justifying the FTE (Full Time Equivalent) money. Placing children in special needs programs (what used to be called special education), labeling them for special services, whether the children actually need those services, is how the positions and salaries are justified.
Take the case of the mother who discovered her Hispanic son, born in the United States, a United States citizen whose primary language was English, was placed in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class. This is a program funded by federal money. When she went to the school; she was given the cold shoulder. When she threatened to contact the US DOE her son was suddenly transferred to another class and the school was quick to state the matter was “a mistake”. But all the time her son was in that ESL program, losing valuable time that could have been spent on a worthy endeavor (if there is such a thing in government schools today), the school was applying for and receiving FTE money from the feds.
This is an all too common practice. Schools have learned that if you want more money, place more children in special needs programs. It isn’t the children who are truly in need of special services that the schools want. Just ask parents who have fought with the schools, and ended up suing the schools, to get the special services their truly disabled or deficient child needs. Schools are not reticent to state that providing special services to truly disabled or deficient children is too expensive. The schools want children who really don’t need the services but who can fill an FTE seat in a classroom where students are labeled in need of special services. And all the while the child is sitting in that seat and the school is collecting that money, the child is losing valuable time that could have been spent at a more worthy endeavor (if, again, there is such a thing in government schools today).
On October 21, 2004, President Bush signed into law the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act [P.L. 108-355]. This law has the distinction of being the nation’s first youth prevention suicide law claiming “that youth suicide is a public health crisis linked to underlying mental health problems.” It authorized $82 million in the form of federal grants over the next three years for suicide prevention programs, including voluntary screening programs like TeenScreen. The grants will be administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and address state-sponsored suicide prevention and intervention initiatives for youth, suicide prevention efforts for college campuses, and a national suicide prevention resource center.
Once again, the federal government, through de facto contracts (grants) that violate the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, is expanding its power and position. Who will benefit? Obviously, according to its website, TeenScreen is set to benefit.
Besides the fact that no “crisis” exists beyond that created, the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) has stated the following regarding suicide screening:
There is not one shred of evidence that TeenScreen has, can or will prevent suicide or that it can accurately identify youth at-risk for suicide.
Articles appearing in The St Louis Post-Dispatch, The New York Times, and The Star-Ledger (New Jersey), have glorified school counselors, psychologists and social workers as some kind of savior of children. Not so. One article, appearing in The St Louis Post-Dispatch, quoted a mother who praised the “free counseling session” her daughter received after being flagged with a mental disorder following a TeenScreen session. Had the mother not received the “free counseling session” would she have done anything? Obviously not. While she admitted she knew her daughter had been sleeping a lot before the screening, she did nothing about it. Parents who believe their children have a mental disorder have a responsibility to seek professional help through their family or primary care physician. The truism that “you get what you pay for” is one parents would do well to remember, especially when it comes to something as crucial and critical as the mental well-being of their children.
The number of school shooters found to have been on psychotropic drugs should send parents a very strong message concerning children and these type drugs — they are not necessarily a good combination; they can be lethal, they can have deadly consequences. Even the government has come forward saying these drugs can lead to suicide ideation, especially in youth. Yet here we have TeenScreen pushing kids to be labeled for a mental disorder for which these drugs can be prescribed. Is this what a responsible, caring organization does? Hardly.
Jane Pearson, PhD, head of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in an article published on the NAMI website, has stated,
Read it again, parents, and heed the warning. One child committing suicide after being exposed to so-called prevention programs like TeenScreen is one child too many. And while TeenScreen would undoubtedly deny their screening caused the suicide, the product they are peddling carries no disclaimer stating that there is not one shred of evidence that TeenScreen has, will, or can prevent suicide.
That kids today are more stressed, more depressed, is not up for debate. The solution is. School counselors, social workers and psychologists screening and referring kids is not a solution. It is a justification for receiving a paycheck, receiving and spending more taxpayer dollars, more government intrusion in the family, more government control over the family, more destruction of the familial unit.
The solution lies in what we do not have — an education system educating children for intelligence. Instead we have a dumbed down system of education intended to produce a world-class worker — psycho-education where …
Children are stressed; children are depressed … why wouldn’t they be? They aren’t getting an education. Their time in school is being spent demonstrating mastery of the wanted behaviors, the new basics: team player, critical thinking, making decisions, communication, adapting to change and understanding whole systems (WTECB; 1994). They are being shortchanged by adults who should know better.
The United States Government, in cooperation with your state government, has proudly brought you this dumbed down system of psycho-education. And since its full-blown implementation, in the early 1990’s, we have watched a steady increase in youth violence, whether in society or in the schools. The government created this problem, and the government will do what is necessary to subsidize the problem to warrant more money, more growth and more power.
Those benefiting from the subsidizing of the problem are organizations such as TeenScreen.
Those paying the price in this instance are the children.
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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
© 2005 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved
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
Take that one step further and imagine the “observables” that could be created by an over-zealous school psychologist, counselor or social worker after being exposed to the TeenScreen screening form where the criteria for the various supposed disorders associated with suicide are listed.