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Children and Involuntary Commitment


Most parents are unaware that their child can be removed from school grounds, without their permission, and brought to a psychiatric ward.  Parents have the right to be informed and to understand that, via school intervention programs, your child may be evaluated and if a psychologist or school personnel or even another child (who then reports their observations to a school psychologist), deems that your child is a behavioral risk, a potential risk to themselves or others, they are liable to the Baker Act.

You can avoid this by learning more about your rights, your child’s rights and a few facts regarding the area of mental health and behavioral health.  There are medical professionals, all over the state, and throughout the world, who specialize in helping individuals who are experiencing mental health or behavioral health symptoms and these professionals do not use psychiatric treatment.  They are traditional medical professionals that perform medical tests, such as nutritional testing, allergy testing, blood tests, etcetera, to find the underlying physical cause of unwanted mental health or behavioral health symptoms.  Getting your child a thorough physical exam will go a long way to prevent psychiatric intervention.

Medical research shows, for example, that the leading cause of depression is due to thyroid problems. Dr. Doris Rapp, allergy specialist, has worked in her field since the early 1960’s and many doctors have followed in her footsteps knowing that allergies can cause hyperactivity, aggression and many other unwanted symptoms.

At the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Florida, we have many facts and resources for parents. To get a full picture of what is happening in the state, take a look at these statistics. In one year, more than 3 children out of every 1000 Florida children, on average were involuntarily committed. Over 3000 separate incidences of children being escorted from school grounds to a psychiatric receiving facility and held in a secured ward, separate from their parents, and without parental consent, in one year.

A child is considered to be 4 years old up to 17 years old. Children younger than 4 years old are not considered to be involuntarily committed under the Baker Act.

For those individuals and parents who want to understand their human rights in the issue of Involuntary Commitment, this article will discuss exactly that. It can be a real surprise to some, to find out that children can be and are involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities. They can be given psychiatric drugs and can be given electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Both psychiatric drugs and electro-shock carry severe FDA warnings that include psychosis, mania, hallucinations, memory loss, suicidal thoughts and more.

Involuntary means that a person is committed against their will, without their own choice.
A medical professional, Sheriff Resource Officer and a police officer can initiate a Baker Act if the child or individual is demonstrating an inability “to exercise voluntary control over his or her own symptoms (mental health symptoms).”

And because of their inability to control their mental health symptoms, depression, anxiety, aggression, etcetera, and because they are deemed an “imminent danger” to themselves or to others, with the “nature and extent of the danger posed” documented in their records, the individual or child will be involuntary committed.

If the child is deemed to be incapacitated or incompetent to consent to treatment, he or she cannot prevent the involuntary commitment. If the person is involuntary committed, then there are very specific things that they can or cannot do. The following information from the Florida Department of Children and Families “Baker Act Handbook and User Reference Guide” clarifies specific issues regarding the child, parent or guardian’s right to refuse treatment:
“The person does have the right to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus so a judge can determine if the person’s rights have been violated.

If appropriate, the guardian/guardian advocate or surrogate/proxy may, based on this information, withdraw his or her consent for the proposed treatment and negotiate a revised treatment plan with the physician.

A person’s refusal to consent to treatment is not, in itself, an indication of incompetence to consent.

There may be many reasons why a person may decide not to consent to a particular medication or to any medication ordered by a particular physician, or to treatment ordered at a particular facility. The decision as to whether a person is competent to consent is a clinical judgment of his or her capacity to decide, not one based on whether the person does or doesn’t provide such consent.”

Psychiatric treatment and the Baker Act:

According to the Baker Act, the psychiatric treatment needs to be given in the “least restrictive manner”. It is vital to understand that the issue of guardianship and parental rights can be exercised. If there are not any parents or guardians to give or deny consent for treatment, the administrator of the facility, upon the recommendation of the psychiatrist, can authorize, what is deemed “emergency medical treatment. This treatment can include psychiatric medication, surgical procedures and more.

Psychiatric treatment has never been documented to assist a child in handling any of life’s stresses and disappointments. In fact, the irreversible effects surgeries, psychiatric drugs and shock treatments, have been documented.

Get informed and know your rights and the rights of your child!
Call the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Florida 800-782-2878
CCHR Florida | 305 N. Ft. Harrison Ave. | Clearwater, Florida, 33755 | Fax: (727) 446-9697 | Tel: 1-800-782-2878 | Tel: (727) 442-8820