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Campaign Exposing Mental Health Human Rights Abuse Reaches Over 500,000

by | Dec 9, 2020

Watchdog organization is calling the abusive use of the Baker Act a serious threat to mental health human rights in Florida.

The most recent report on involuntary psychiatric examinations in Florida disclosed that there were over 200,000 during 2017/2018. This same report also revealed that more than 36,000 of these examinations were on children and that over 4,000 of these children were age 10 and younger. [1]

Viewed as a statewide problem, the number of children sent for involuntary psychiatric examinations, called a Baker Act, has been steadily climbing for almost two decades with many parents only finding out their child has been taken into custody after the fact. [2]

According to the Florida chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), the abusive use of the Baker Act is possibly one of the greatest risks to parental rights in the state. [2]

A leading expert on mental health human rights, CCHR Florida views the failure to recognize the rights of a parent when a child is Baker Acted as a gross violation.

“It is a fact that a significant percentage of children being Baker Acted do not meet the criteria for initiation,” stated Diane Stein, president of CCHR Florida. “And now that school is back in session, we are also receiving reports of the covert mental health screening of children without parental consent. This is why the Baker Act should be amended and a Parents’ Bill of Rights passed.” [3]

In response, CCHR Florida expanded their campaign to amend the mental health law to require parental notification before the initiation of a Baker Act to also include parental rights in general with a focus on invasive mental health programs and screenings.

As part of this campaign, CCHR Florida has made a free eBook available to anyone wanting to know more about parental rights and have used social media to reach over 500,000 people since the campaign was launched. CCHR is also mailing copies of these booklets to school districts, Parent Student Teacher Associations, law enforcement and other groups across the state resulting in requests for hundreds of more booklets for use with School Resource Officers.

“Parents should be able to easily find out what rights they have when confronted by a situation involving their child. This is why we have produced this booklet and are making it available free of charge to anyone who needs help,” said Diane Stein

CCHR encourages parents who wish to know more about their rights to visit their website at https://www.cchrflorida.org/parental-rights/ where they can download a free copy of the eBooklet.

Sources:
[1] Baker Act Reporting Center https://www.usf.edu/cbcs/baker-act/documents/ba_usf_annual_report_2017_2018.pdf
[2] Ibid.
[3] CHILDREN’S BAKER ACT TASK FORCE MINUTES for FIRST MEETING 7.20.17 https://myflfamilies.com/service-programs/samh/involuntary-examination-minors/docs/20170720/20170720-minutes.pdf

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