drugging children

Since 2001, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of antipsychotics to treat children for an ever-expanding list of symptoms. The prescription rate for toddlers, preschoolers, and middle-class children has doubled, while the prescribing rate for low-income children covered by Medicaid has quadrupled. In a majority of cases, these drugs are neither FDA-approved nor justified by research for the children’s conditions.

In Drugging our Children editors Sharna Olfman and Brent Dean Robbins expose the skyrocketing rate of antipsychotic drug prescriptions for children, and identify grave dangers when children’s mental health care is driven by market forces rather than science. They describe effective therapeutic care for children typically prescribed antipsychotics, and explain how to navigate a drug-fueled mental health system.

Contributors explain how the pharmaceutical industry has inserted itself into every step of medical education, rendering objectivity in the scientific understanding, use, and approvals of such drugs impossible. Drugging our Children describes the relentless marketing behind the drug sales, even going as far as to provide coloring and picture books for children related to the drug at issue. Valuable information about legal recourse that families and therapists can take when their children or patients have been harmed by antipsychotic drugs and alternative approaches to working with children with emotional and behavioral challenges is also provided.

• A chapter on effective parenting coauthored by a leading parenting expert, Laura Berk
• Contributions by leading medical journalist Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic
• Information on legal issues by Harvard-educated lawyer Jim Gottstein
• Insights from former pharmaceutical industry insider, Gwen Olsen
• An examination of community approaches to children’s mental health care by internationally known psychologist Stuart Shanker

• Offers solid facts about antipsychotic medication and effective therapeutic alternatives
• Provides an ethical and legal roadmap for licensed psychologists and other non-MD mental health professionals seeking to protect children in their care from unnecessary and risky drugs
• Gives parents effective tools to advocate more effectively on behalf of their children within the mental health system

“The over-use of anti-psychotic drugs with America’s children has been one of the leading scandals in mental health for years, and this outstanding volume explores every angle of it, from its history and causes to some solutions in the best interests of children. Parents and professionals alike need to read this book.”

— Frank Farley, PhD, L.H. Carnell Professor, Temple University, Philadelphia; Former President, American Psychological Association.

Drugging Our Children is compelling and disturbing. It is a must-read for all health care professionals. This enlightening well-researched volume will help to protect our children from maltreatment and abuse from inappropriate use of medication. I highly recommend it—for parents as well as professionals.”

— Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School 

Sharna Olfman is professor of clinical and developmental psychology at Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA, and a clinical psychologist in private practice. She is the editor/author of Praeger’s Childhood In America book series. Olfman’s published works include The Sexualization of ChildhoodBipolar ChildrenNo Child Left DifferentChildhood Lost, and All Work and No Play. She has written and lectured widely on the subjects of children’s mental health and parenting.

Brent Dean Robbins, PhD, is associate professor of psychology and director of the psychology program at Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA. He is editor-in-chief of Janus Head: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in LiteratureContinental Philosophy; and Phenomenological Psychology, and a recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Harmi Carari Early Career Award. Robbins is Member-at-Large and conference coordinator for Division 32 of the American Psychological Association, and also editor of the Division’s blog. His published research includes mixed method investigations of emotion, embodiment, and the medicalization of the body in contemporary Western culture, with particular attention to the implications of these findings for the treatment of mental illness.

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