Is America overmedicating its children? This question has been in the public discourse in the recent years and is increasingly becoming a controversial and highly emotive issue. Proponents of this assertion argue that indeed true, the American society is overmedicating its children. There are equally opponents to the assertion that America is overmedicating its children. The main argument advanced by the opponents is that such assertions are fallacies and that those who make them are doing so for various vested interests. This article agrees with the proponents of this assertion. It will thus be seeking to back up this assertion by providing relevant examples and conclude by proposing alternatives to medicating children.
Research has shown that there has been a phenomenal increase in the use of psychotropic medications for children aged between two and four years old. A number of reasons have been advanced to try and explain this worrying trend with the principal argument being that 6 to 9 million of the 70 million children in the U.S have emotional disturbance. This is a glaring example of the fact that America is overmedicating its children. Why would one put a young person who has barely reached ten years old on medication for emotional disturbance? Is this not a case of seeking of seeking for quick fix solutions to a bigger underlying problem? Resorting to drugs instead of finding other ways of addressing the emotional disturbances in children has been a sure way of overmedicating American children. One can only imagine the amount of medication a child will have taken by the time they are aged ten if they were already on medication from when they were as young as two years old.
The fact that America is overmedicating its children is also evidenced by the fact that the American society seems to have delved so deep into psychiatry that any abnormal behaviour in a child is viewed as warranting medication. The plunge into the world of psychiatry has been spearheaded by pharmaceutical giants who continuously run advertisements in the media to the effect that they have drugs which can correct any emotional disturbances in children. The net effect of all these has been that parents have failed to examine their parenting skills and what effect they could be having on their children. On the contrary, parents readily view any psychological or emotional disturbance in children as a medical problem which requires a medical solution and consequently opt for medication.
But does this have to be the situation? Can this trend be reversed? This article contends that this state of affairs can and should be reversed as soon as is practically possible. Before resorting to psychotropic drugs, other methods such as intensive family and individual therapy should be applied in the treatment of children with psychological disturbances. Only in instances where this completely fails will resorting to psychotropic drugs be justified. Other methods that can be used to treat young children with emotional and psychological disturbances include taking the child through a behavioral discipline regime.
Indeed, emotionally disturbed children grappling with such problems as aggression, rebellion and improper social skills have reacted better when taken through a behavioral discipline regime as compared to when put under medication. In addition, there is need for parents to be more involved in the lives of their children. They must however be careful in these interactions to ensure that they do not overburden or put excessive pressure on the children so as to ensure the children have good emotional health. In conclusion, the threat of overmedication of children is a ticking time bomb. If not addressed, the U.S risks bringing up entire generations who take medication right from birth till death. Of course, this is a prospect which makes pharmaceutical companies smile, but the consequences that the society at large will face will be of catastrophic proportions.
Patton, S. (2011). Don't Fix Me, I'm Not Broken: Changing Our Minds About Ourselves and Our Children. New Alresford: John Hunt Publishing.
Rutter, S. M., Pine, D. B., Scott, S., Taylor, J. S., & Thapar, A. (2011). Rutter's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
United States Congress House of Representatives. (2010). Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder- Are We Overmedicating Our Children. Washington: BiblioGov.