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Medication is the new way to level the playing field. What may be a new eerie trend is discussed in a recent New York Times article. Interviewed for the piece, Dr. Michael Anderson prescribes psychotropic drugs for children who are not doing well in school. The children mentioned come from poor socioeconomic backgrounds and thus attend overwhelmed and understaffed schools. What may well be caused by entirely external factors is being tackled with drugs whose long-term effects are not yet entirely known, particularly for children. These won’t be known for years to come, as the drugs are relatively new.
Some side effects are known. These include “growth suppression, increased blood pressure and, in rare cases, psychotic episodes.” In the case of Quintn Rocafort, he had to be taken off Adderall and hospitalized for a week, because he was hallucinating and became suicidal. Yet this did not stop his parents from putting his twelve and nine-year-old siblings on the very same drug. Siblings, who according to the parents, do not even have A.D.H.D. Quintn was put on Risperdal after his experience with Adderall.
This is egregious. The level of irresponsibility is unfathomable because it is impossible to know what the full repercussions of long-term exposure to these drugs are for children. Only time can tell.
Side effects aside, there is a terrible lesson being taught to vulnerable minds: If you are not well adjusted now, this pill will solve your problem. Where is the accountability? Sometimes the lesson is to try, sometimes it is to try and fail. Learning to fall and then get up is a skill that must be learned like any other skill.
The efforts of Dr Anderson are noble, but entirely misguided. Giving medication to children who are doing poorly in school simply for the sake of performing better is a terrible, short-term solution for a long-term problem. Is this child to depend on drugs for the rest of his academic life? And at what cost?
Alexis, Ethan, and Perry, the rest of the Rocafort children, may be doing well in school now, but there is no lesson gained, only a lesson lost. I am not advocating the eradication of psychotropic drugs. Certainly they have their uses, and should be used at an adequate time and place. What is appalling is not just that they are being given to children who do not need them, but also that this decision-making seems to be done arbitrarily.