Philosophy of The Big Society

David Cameron gets to be God!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Over medication in care homes during the 70's and 80's.

From Virgin Media News

Ten girls who were heavily sedated while living at a care home during the 1970s and 1980s went on to have children with a range of birth defects, a BBC investigation has revealed.

As teenagers at the Church of England-run Kendall House home in Gravesend, Kent, the 10 were restrained with huge doses of tranquillisers and other drugs, according to Radio 4's Today programme.

It is feared hundreds of other girls who were in UK care homes during the same period and suffered the same mistreatment may also be at risk of having children with birth defects.

In a statement issued through the Church of England, the Diocese of Rochester told the programme it was unable to discuss individual circumstances for legal reasons but would co-operate with any future inquiry.

"However, if the police, social services or appropriate legal body initiates an investigation, the Diocese will co-operate fully with them," the statement said.

"It would be inappropriate for the Diocese to initiate any internal inquiries since we are not qualified to do this. In any event, it would be essential for any investigation to be conducted both professionally and impartially."

According to files from Kendall House, which is no longer a children's home, girls were given massive doses of a number of drugs over long periods of time.

Former resident Teresa Cooper's three children all have birth defects. Her eldest son was born with respiratory difficulties, her second son is blind and has learning difficulties, and her daughter was born with a cleft palate and a short lower jaw.

Ms Cooper, who left the home in 1984 at 16, was given medication at least 1,248 times over a 32-month period. This included three major tranquillisers, drugs to counter side-effects and anti-depressants, including up to 10 times the current recommended dose of Valium.

Nine other former residents of Kendall House, who all underwent similar drugging, have also gone on to have children with a range of birth defects, including brain tumours, learning difficulties and cleft palate, the BBC reported

Gotta hope, with a certain amount of scepticism around modern monitoring processes, that things have changed for the better. Ho hum!


  1. ONE in four children who have been removed from the care of their parents and placed in foster homes are being heavily medicated to control their emotions and behaviour.

    And 50 per cent of children under 12 who live in residential care - where children live in small groups under the supervision of social workers - are taking a psychotropic medication.

    According to the annual report of the NSW Children's Guardian, 44 per cent of Aboriginal children in residential care are also medicated on drugs such as Ritalin, Strattera and Zoloft.

    By comparison, the proportion of children nationwide on psychotropic medication is less than 2 per cent.

    The president of the NSW Foster Care Association, Denise Crisp, said it was a nationwide problem.

    "We call it the chemical straitjacket," she said. "The problem is if a foster carer has four kids and they have all got behavioural problems, how are you going to control them?

    "The only way to do it is with drugs.

    "A majority of foster carers, no matter where they are, want to do things another way but the cost involved for things like behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, music, arts and sport ... you'd have quite a few million-dollar kids."

    Psychotropic drugs work on the central nervous system to alter emotion and behaviour.

    Children's Guardian Kerryn Boland said yesterday that the figures were not surprising. "It's something we've been seeing for several years," she said.

    But Freda Briggs, emeritus professor of child development at the University of South Australia, said: "It's horrendous. Children in foster care are that much more likely than children in the community to be medicated.

    "The foster carers always say that it's so difficult to get therapy for the children in their care. They need counselling and support and the carers are told you have to wait a year to get an appointment, so it's not surprising they turn to medication.

    "The foster children can be extremely disturbed, setting fire to the home, smashing the TV, knocking holes in walls."

    National Foster Care Association president Bev Orr, based in Canberra, said the numbers of medicated children would be higher in foster care "and it may be that some were on medication before they went into care".

    "Then you've got families that have disintegrated, or the parents haven't been coping, and the children have behavioural issues," she said. "I'm not surprised (by the high number of foster children on drugs), but I am saddened."

    Ms Boland said medication was normally part of a "behaviour management plan" for NSW's 25,000 foster children.

    She said many of the children in care had "significant behavioural problems, so they may have been on some kind of medication before they came into care, although that kind of detail was not included in the audit".

    Ms Crisp believed the proportion could be higher, saying: "I'd say 40 per cent of them are on some kind of medication.

    "Most are put on it when they come into care. They come into care damaged and distraught because of what might have happened to them in the home, and so they go on medication. Going into care is scary, so they act out even more."

    Ms Crisp said the caseworkers often decided whether a child should be on, or stay on, medication.

    "I'm dead set against (the use of drugs). I don't believe they work in a long term. They just sedate them. But they make it easier for the carers, and the caseworker.

    "It makes their lives easier. What they (the children) need is intensive services and behavioural therapies, but that's not as cheap."

    The high number of children being medicated would seem to be at odds with the guardian's own guidelines for "behaviour management" of children in state care, as set out in clause 30 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Regulation 2000.

    The policy bans any form of corporal punishment, or any punishment that takes the form of immobilisation, force-feeding or depriving of food, or any punishment that is intended to humiliate or frighten a child or young person.

    It also places "restrictions on any medical treatment that involves the administration of a psychotropic drug for the purpose of controlling behaviour".

    The annual report said proper consent had been given in the cases of only seven in 10 children who were receiving medication. "This did not reach the compliance threshold," the report said.

    "More importantly, consent was significantly less likely for children under 12 in residential care (44 per cent) and Aboriginal children."

    According to the report, children in residential care - that is, those who live in group homes - are three times more likely than those in foster care to have "current consents for psychotropic medication".

    Under current legislation, those agencies that provide out-of-home care are required to have a "psychotropic drugs policy statement".

    The use of psychotropic drugs by children is higher in NSW than in other states, with 15,466 boys and 3872 girls on medication for ADHD.

    A special review by academic Philip Mitchell for the NSW Government this year found that these figures equated to 1.5 per cent of the general population. He concluded there was "no evidence of over-subscribing" in the general population in NSW.

  2. Hi Nothing has Changed

    When I was in work. yes, all those years ago, I was responsible for the mentoring programme for new staff. Actually, alot of the existing staff needed it too. One of things I used to believe is that if you 'think the best of people then that is what you get from them'. It was a bit of a mentoring rallying cry.

    On reflection it was a bit too simplistic and twee and considering the people with the power are always pulling strings from above, people rarely get a chance to become the best they can. That is unless you consider someone becoming the best they can is 'compliance to and ladder climbing in a stinking system'.

    I wish I was surprised by what you have written but I am not surprised anymore but what I read and hear.

    Drugging children is a cop out but one that serves the puppet masters very well (whilst they turn a blind eye and pretend they don't know what is happening).