Child Advocacy and Parents Legal Rights

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Phone 727-686-1852 to get help from an experienced Mental Health Rights Advocate!

Parents are right to want to protect their children’s rights and there are laws that exist to help them to do just that.  Child Advocacy is an active area and there are laws that parents may benefit from knowing about so that they know what parents legal rights are. So, that they are not unpleasantly surprised and are not surpassed by others in regards to decision-making and their child. 

 

Children in School-how does mental health enter in!

Since the 1960’s, mental health and children’s rights has become a factor within the school system.  Children are open to mental health questionnaires, from school personnel, public schools have School Resource Officers positioned at every school, nurses are dispensing mental health meds in the school, and children who have, apparently misbehaved are brought to the school counselor’s office and given informal questioning about their mental health.  Parents have the right to decide on their child’s health. This Parents’ Rights Document is one way a parent can assert that right to decide. It’s important to know the risks of, both, mental health questionnaires and mental health meds.

 

Baker Act—Child—Children

Children are placed under the Baker Act and most parents are unaware that this can happen. Too often, children are taken from school grounds and placed under the Baker Act, or taken from home and placed in a police car and brought to a psychiatric facility and the parents had no idea this could happen. In our current era, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter and other electronic gadgets are being used by children and teens to communicate with their friends, no matter the time of day or night or the child’s frame of mind. When long ago, a child would go to their parent with their problems, now the child has easy access to express themselves via their electronic tools. Additionally, young people are setting dangerous trends that are broadcasted on the social media sites, youtube and chat forums and these trends are what would have been rebellious behavior in the past are self-harming behavior in the present.

It’s vital that parents understand the criteria of the Baker Act and help to prevent their child from ever appearing as if they meet the criteria. If your child has been brought to the psychiatric facility, under the Baker Act, it is important to know that although, the law gives the facility and the doctor the right to keep your child for 72 hours, you still have rights as the parent. You have the right to know the risks of the proposed treatment and you have the right to know the alternatives to that treatment. You have the right to see your child during visiting hours. There are many more rights than you have and you can call to get more factual information.

 

The right for a child to get a fair education!

Every child has the right to a fair education. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, including federal funds.  It’s your right, as a parent and therefore your child’s right, to receive appropriate assistance from teachers to ensure your child gets a good education.  Over time, the categories of disability grew to encompass learning disorder and mental health symptoms.  Unfortunately, that opened the door for mental health diagnoses for millions of children all over the country.  You have the right to demand that your child’s education is cared for by school personnel and you do not have to accept mental health or learning diagnoses in order to have your child receive a quality education.

If your child is in Special Education and you would like more information on how to obtain services, you can read some of the articles on this site from legal professionals who specialize in this

area .

 

Children of divorce–where both parents do not agree on mental health!

There are many children, over generations, who come from divorced homes.  It is not a new phenomena, yet there is a recent change in the way things occur in family court, throughout the state.  All too often, the child becomes the focus of court proceedings because one parent is asserting that the child has a mental or behavioral health problem or learning disorder and that parent is pushing for meds, whereas the other parent is strongly objecting to the meds due to the FDA warnings on them.

The family court arena has changed, over the last decade, where there are now many professionals who are insinuating themselves into the court proceedings.  For example, parent-coordinator, child-custody supervisor, guardian ad litem and more.  With this addition of people who weigh-in on the court proceedings, are demands for mental health evaluations,diagnoses and meds.

This has become so prevalent that a group of parents have formed an organization dedicated to helping parents, who find themselves in the midst of this type of proceeding. Take a look at what the Director of this group has to say.

 

Child Advocacy and Parents Legal Rights

Child Advocacy is a broad topic that covers many different issues in the area of mental health. Parents legal rights go hand in hand with child advocacy and most assuredly, parents do have rights, until and only if the parent is surpassed by medical professionals and/or the court system. In order to truly help a parent and a child protect and/or assert their rights, it’s vital to put the work into child advocacy long before any emergency situation. This, of all areas of mental health rights, is one that deserves time and effort on the parents’ part, to get informed on the subject, almost from the moment their child is born.

For the sake of ease on the reader, this article will be subdivided into several issues in connection with child advocacy.

Children Rights In School

Children have the right to a fair education under the Federal law, titled, Individuals Disability Education Act (IDEA). That’s a very broad statement in regards to children rights, and more specifically, IDEA is what encompasses all of Special Education. Children with disabilities, decades ago, meant children who are vision or hearing impaired, have a physical handicap or were born with a different learning rate due to an inherent physical condition. Today, the categories of disability have grown to encompass every aspect of mental health or behavioral health.

Per, IDEA, Sec. 300.8 Child with a disability:

 

“Child with a disability means a child evaluated in accordance with Sec. Sec. 300.304 through 300.311 as having mental retardation, a hearing impairment (including deafness), a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment (including blindness), a serious emotional disturbance (referred to in this part as “emotional disturbance”), an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, an other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities, and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.”

Parents are, typically, not told that mental health professionals and medical professionals do not have a single test that evidences a mental health disorder, behavioral disorder or learning disability. This has been confirmed by the mental and medical health communities for well over the last decade, including Dr. Peter Breggin and Dr. Thomas Szasz. (world-renowned for their work as psychiatrists advocating for the rights of children and adults)

There are medical tests that can be performed, by knowledgeable and experienced, traditional medical professionals, that may evidence the underlying physical cause of unwanted mental health or behavioral health symptoms.

Children and Baker Act

A 2014 article, published by Flagler Live, gives an overview of children and Baker Act. The article quoted the Flagler County district director of student services as saying that “The Baker Act must be the next step” after a series of things have been done first. That includes filling out checklists that the guidance counselor uses to rate the severity of the apparent threat that the child is posing, either to themselves or to a fellow student.

In this time, we as a nation, are sorely familiar with violence in a public setting and specifically in a school setting. Procedures, such that are followed to prevent this type of violent outbreak at school, are necessary and yet they do not exclude parents legal rights or the child’s rights.

Unfortunately, children who do not meet the criteria for the Baker Act, are taken from school grounds and brought, in handcuffs, to psychiatric wards for a three-day, involuntary examination.

The crux of the matter, is the criteria and the ability to understand what the law says versus what is being done in real-life terms.

The Flagler article goes on to describe the involuntary examination of a seven-year-old child. The child was having a temper tantrum because the teacher had taken away her recess time and she was alleged to have struck the teacher and kicked her while in the midst of her tantrum.

The criteria for the Baker Act is very specific and to understand more about it, it may help understand what doesn’t meet the criteria. A situation in which a child is throwing a tantrum, not mentally ill and does not pose a threat to herself that could result “in real and present threat of substantial harm that can’t be avoided through the help of willing family members or friends or the provision of other services” or that “there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself or herself in the near future, as evidenced by recent behavior.”

Psychotropic Drugs and Children

In addition to there being no medical tests that can be performed to evidence one-single mental health or behavioral health disorder, there is a vast omission of information that is given to parents, prior to their child being placed on psychotropic drugs. This does not adhere to the globally accepted, legal principle, called “Express and Informed Consent”. Briefly and for the purposes of this article, Express and Informed Consent is a right assured to a parent to be informed of the risks and the alternatives to any proposed medical treatment. Psychotropic drugs and children are risky business for the child and the parent, and therefore the school. Psychotropic drugs carry FDA warnings such as hallucinations, psychosis, mania, delusions, suicidal thoughts and homicidal thoughts, amongst many other warnings.

Most parents love their children and want to help them the best way they know how. In the U.S., we are prey to direct-to-consumer advertising that promises “a-cure-all” in the form of a pill, that in itself, has FDA warnings of mental health effects that, by evidence, prompt severe mental disturbance in those that take the pills.

That is not to say that an individual may not feel that the pill has “helped” them in some manner, to contain their anxiety, depression, aggression, or whatever was plaguing their lives. Psychotropic drugs are chemical restraints and for a period of time it is not unusual for the individual to “feel better” that their unwanted mental health or behavioral health symptoms have disappeared or abated. Yet, the tragedy is that medical science can test to find the potential underlying physical cause of their unwanted symptom and can address the actual cure of that physical ailment, without subjecting the patient to psychotropic drugs.

Parents do have the right to Express and Informed Consent and they do have the right to demand a thorough physical examination for their child.

Children of Divorced Parents

Sadly, family court has gotten even more devastating, in terms of its proceedings, for children and parents. It’s best explained in terms of who might intervene between your wishes regarding your child and your right to ensure those wishes.

As like so many other subjects, if the law were applied correctly, there might not be abuse of rights. In the area of mental health and family court, the adverse consequences leave many parents in the wake of the storm, that is called “justice”.

Parenting Coordinators, per Florida Statute, are appointed by the court and the stated purpose of the parent coordinator is to “provide a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process whereby a parenting coordinator assists the parents in creating and implementing a parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of disputes between the parents…”

Child Custody Evaluators, per Florida Statute, are appointed by the court and the purpose of the evaluator is “to conduct a child custody evaluation in a judicial proceeding…”

Guardian ad Litems, court appointed to the child, in a divorce case, are intended to represent the child’s interest.

There are parents, across the state, who have found themselves in the midst of battle in family court, with one or all of the above-mentioned court appointed professionals, and have found their rights to be surpassed and at times, withdrawn.

Many of the issues in regards to mental health and children, enter into the family court arena and if one parent desires to have their child receive thorough physical testing to detect and possibly physical ailment that may be causing their mental health problems, and if the other parent demands strictly and only mental health drugs for the child, an all-out battle ensues.

 

Get help from an experienced mental health rights advocate!

 

 

Sources:

Florida Statute 61.125 (1)– Parenting coordination

Florida Statute 61.122  Child custody evaluations; presumption of psychologist’s good faith; prerequisite to parent’s filing suit; award of fees, costs, reimbursement