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WND Exclusive
Doping our kids
Prescription drugs at root
of violence, says expert

By David M. Bresnahan
© 1999

Mind altering drugs may be the cause of violence among school children, according to some doctors and other experts. Millions of children are legally taking drugs similar to cocaine in schools every day.

The drugs are Ritalin, Prozac, and others.

The claims that behavioral drugs cause violence in children came after news reports that Eric Harris, one of the shooters in the Columbine High School shooting, was reported to have been taking such medication. Harris was also rejected by the Marines for medical reasons. The Marines would only say that anyone who is currently being treated by a doctor would be rejected.

Other shootings and violent acts at schools across the nation have been committed by children receiving psychiatric care, counseling, and drugs such as Ritalin, according to several groups.

At least two organizations claim that over-use of Ritalin is to blame for the escalating incidents of children committing acts of violence on other children. They claim the problem has reached pandemic proportions and will get worse before it gets better. Other experts place the blame on inadequate parenting, while legislators propose new laws.

A report issued in 1995 by the Drug Enforcement Agency warned that Ritalin "shares many of the pharmacological effects of ... cocaine."

There are some experts who claim Ritalin can cause psychotic reactions resulting in violent behavior toward others and suicide. Defenders of the drug claim those reactions are symptoms of the condition, not the drug itself.

Support for the claim that the use of Ritalin can cause psychotic reactions can be found in medical literature and studies. A simple search on the Internet revealed extensive volumes of medically credible documents listing a vast number of warnings and side effects to the drug, which is classified by the U.S. government in the same category as cocaine and heroin.

One Internet site provides frequently asked medical questions with answers from doctors. Drug Infonet warns that there are "no studies in animals or humans" and that "risks are unknown currently." Among the side effects the doctors warn about are "psychotic thought processes."

"The use of Ritalin on children has no purpose other than to slow them down, shut them up, and make it more difficult for them to move around," described Dennis H. Clarke, Chairman, Executive Advisory Board, Citizens Commission On Human Rights International. He believes that Ritalin is an easy way out for parents and teachers, rather than dealing directly with behavior problems in children.

Clarke also points to the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Revised Edition," published by the American Psychiatric Association, as supporting his claims of the dangers of Ritalin in children. All the critical information about Ritalin has been removed in the more recent edition, which he says supports his claim that the industry is engaged in a cover up. Proponents of the use of the drug claim the change was simply made in error.

Clarke claims that children who take Ritalin in elementary school are often switched to Prozac and other drugs as they grow older. The effects of Ritalin can cause problems long after the prescription is stopped, he added.

"When they go through puberty, this becomes true speed," explained Clarke. "They get these flashbacks and their thinking goes out of control. They're now looking for downers. They want the anti-depressants. They want the tranquilizer."

Clarke is not alone. Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness is equally concerned.

"They are switching lots of these kids from Ritalin to Prozac -- the frying pan into the fire routine," she told WorldNetDaily. "Kip Kinkel in the Oregon shooting last summer was a perfect example of the effects. The chances the boy in Arkansas was on it are great."

She also pointed out that adults who use such drugs also commit violent crimes at a higher rate. Dr. Tracy is from Utah where the use of Ritalin and Prozac are reported to be at a rate three times greater than the rest of the country per capita. She said Utah's rate of murders and suicides has also increased by a similar amount. Dr. Tracy confirmed news reports that Harris reportedly was taking the drug Luvox, a drug in the same classification as Prozac. She said many people who take that drug are confronted with compulsive sexual behavior, in addition to exhibiting violent behavior. The stories of violent children leave many shaking their heads in disbelief and shock. Texas law would not even permit the arrest of two boys who allegedly abducted, beat, and sexually abused a 3-year-old girl because they are too young -- seven and eight years old. An 11-year-old was arrested in the incident, but children under 10 may not be detained.

There have been numerous incidents in which young children have brought various weapons to school. Young children have recently held students at bay with guns at schools in Utah and Idaho. Some have used them, and one incident in Arkansas brought international attention when four school children and one teacher were shot dead at a middle school. Even peaceful students who were saying prayers outside their school fell victim to a classmate who gunned them down.

The high number of incidents involving violent children, as well as an increase in children who commit suicide, can be attributed to an ever-increasing number of children who are being given drugs to control their behavior, according to Clarke.

He agreed that the evidence for his claim is hard to come by. Medical information about the children in these incidents is typically confidential and never made public. He said he comes by his information through comments and remarks made to the press and in court, even though the actual medical records are not available to him.

"We do know, for example, that the 13-year-old in Jonesboro was being treated. Apparently they were saying he had been sexually abused as a child. They were saying he was now a sexual abuser. He had a hyperactivity type label put on him as well -- or 'attention deficit disorder.' So we had several different things working with him. There is no chance under the sun, moon, or stars that this kid was not on drugs," described Clarke.

Clarke went beyond his claims of psychotic side effects to the drug. He also claims that pharmaceutical companies go to great lengths and expense to cover up the problems that take place. When an incident of violence occurs, the pharmaceutical "crash teams" go to work tokeep things quiet, according to Clarke.

Teams of psychiatrists are sent to the places where incidents take place and quickly work to see that medical records are kept sealed, doctors are convinced to remain silent, and victims are given monetary payments to prevent them from ever going to court.

"It's all being covered up, and it's deliberate. There are billions and billions of dollars at stake here," explained Clarke. He compared the cover up to the tobacco companies and the deceptions which are now apparently coming to light.

Pharmaceutical companies respond to claims by Clarke and others by saying there is no credible proof to substantiate the claims. Credible proof would require a double blind controlled study, which the scientific community could also duplicate, and that type of study would be illegal, according to Clarke.

"You can't run an experiment to see if somebody is going to take an AK-47 and shoot up everyone he knows. You can't run an experiment to find out if a child is going to kill himself," explained Clarke.

A thorough review of medical literature was also performed by Mary Eberstadt of the Heritage Foundation's Policy Review magazine, found in the April edition. She points out that the drug has doubled in use since 1990 and has become popular for abuse by teens who have ready access to it.

"Ritalin works on children just like cocaine and other stimulants work on adults -- sharpening the short-term attention span when the drug kicks in and producing 'valleys' when the effect wears off," Eberstadt points out.

Teachers, school administrators, and even doctors hold to the belief that if a child responds well to Ritalin, then it is safe to conclude that the child suffers from ADD. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health disputes that assumption. That study shows that all children and adults who are given Ritalin will display improved performance and attention span, regardless of whether they are diagnosed with ADD or not.

Utah is reported to have the highest per capita use of Ritalin in the nation. A call to a local elementary school found a teacher who believes strongly in the use of the drug to control otherwise difficult children. She did not want her name published, but confirmed that she routinely makes recommendations for children in her classes to be given the drug. All the children she has recommended have ended up with the prescription, and their parents have expressed gratitude. She said 11 of the 29 children in her first-grade class are now taking the drug in school each day.

Clarke predicts the future will see an even greater number of violent children. Unless the correlation of the use of Ritalin with violent acts is openly established, Clarke says the general public, health officials, and parents will fail to recognize the true nature and the extent of a pandemic he says is already sweeping the nation.

"Warning: sufficient data on the safety and efficacy (effectiveness) of long term use of Ritalin in children are not yet available," warns CIBA Pharmaceutical Company in a product information release. The warning is intended to serve as a protection from liability. The drug has been on the market for 50 years.

"In other words, if you have a child on Ritalin, and leave the child on for a 'long term,' which is not defined but can be assumed to mean over three weeks, you are on your own as far as CIBA Pharmaceutical Company is concerned. They have warned you," described Clarke.

"Ritalin only exists to slow down the fast kids and give us quieter and less active children. We now have at least 14 quieter less active children there in Colorado. This is the product that we'regoing to be seeing over and over again. These children are being devastated by the drugs," he warned.

Herbert S. Okun, a member of the International Drug Control Board for the United Nations held a news conference recently to issue a warning. He said his board is very concerned that methylphenidate, or Ritalin, is greatly over-prescribed in the U.S. He said there are 330 million daily does of Ritalin taken each day in the U.S., compared with just 65 million for the rest of the world.

Ritalin is prescribed for children diagnosed with ADD. The condition has never been fully proven to even exist, and the criteria for diagnosis are so general that virtually anyone would qualify for a prescription.

David M. Bresnahan, a contributing editor for, is the author of "Cover Up: The Art and Science of Political Deception," and offers a monthly newsletter "Talk USA Investigative Reports." He may be reached through email and also maintains a website.

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