Ritalin and Menticide:
America's Opium War against Its Own Children
by Michele Steinberg
There is nothing accidental about the "new violence" sweeping America, in which children are killing each other, killing their parents, and killing themselves. Creating killer kids using Nintendo techniques and animated violence is a multibillion-dollar business, and it is deliberate.
And, as the video and film industry spawns new behavioral, emotional, and physical problems, increasing numbers of children--even those under the age of one year--are being given psychiatric drugs, a fact admitted even in the "establishment" publication, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The "new violence" is a national security issue, wrote Lyndon LaRouche in his June 11, 1999 EIR piece, "Star Wars and Littleton." There LaRouche said: "What are the methods which have ... turned so many among our children and adolescents into such 'zombies' as those [Littleton] killers?"
"...To grasp the horror posed by such cases, restate the same problem as a national-security topic. For that purpose, the leading subject for discussion, as posed by the Littleton and kindred cases, is terrorism by children. Stating the problem in that way, brings the sheer, satanic horror of the matter into focus."
Events over the last year prove that Mr. LaRouche was absolutely right. At the end of February, within a little more than a week, the nation witnessed a wave of child shootings and killings. The Feb. 28 killing of a six-year-old girl by another six-year-old on their Flint, Michigan school playground, was followed by the non-fatal shooting of a classmate by a seven-year-old, who learned to load and shoot a gun by watching television. That was followed by a rash of teenage killings and shootings at schools across the United States.
It is called the "New Violence" because it is unprecedented. These child-killers are better trained than police and the military.
In March, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Sabrina Steger, a pediatric nurse, testified on video games and violence. Steger is not just any witness; she's the mother of Kayce Steger, one of three students killed at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky on Dec. 1, 1997, by 14-year-old Michael Carneal. She is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the makers, designers, and distributors of the killer video games that Carneal used. She's suing the top names in the violence "industry."
Steger explained to the Senate: "I am the person you do not want to be. I live a parent's worst nightmare. ... Eight shots fired--eight children hit in the upper chest, neck, or head. Kayce, Jessica, and Nicole died that day. ... We believe the Heath shooter was influenced by the movies he watched, the video games he played, and the Internet sites he used.
"One of the first indicators of media influence is that none of his shots missed. ... [We] know of only one time prior that the killer practiced with the gun he used to commit murder. A recent case in the news involved a man shot at close range by police officers"--the February 1999 New York case of Amadou Diallo. "Of the 41 shots they fired, 19 hit the victim. Less than half of the shots fired by trained policemen hit their target, but 100% of those fired by a teenager hit ... in the 'kill zone.' The fact that the shooter used the most effective methods of shooting, one shot per victim ... is also a learned skill."
Earlier this year, Jack Thompson, the attorney for Mrs. Steger, gave an interview to EIR,. Thompson stressed that the violence associated with the "point-shoot" video games is not a free-speech issue, and it can be stopped. And instead of holding more conferences to "discuss" the violence, the President could simply direct the Product Safety Commission to ban them because they are dangerous.
The only national leader to really address this emergency, and offer a way out, has been Democratic Presidential pre-candidate Lyndon LaRouche. On Feb. 25, he called for forming a National Commission Against the New Violence, and pledged his campaign will continue to spotlight media-induced violence. On March 3, in a dialogue with Hispanic-American leaders, LaRouche again stressed the Commission:
"We're getting killings which are caused by the use of Nintendo-style games, such as the game Pokémon, with children, and also with police and others. In the case of the Diallo shooting, the problem was that the Mayor of New York, like many other officials, has been training the police force in Nintendo-style killing techniques. ... So we have Nintendo-killers.
"... We are producing zombies from our students, by this means, and by the use of Ritalin and other dangerous drugs in classrooms, to try to control student populations.
"... I'm determined to do everything I can, with my campaign and in other ways, to deal with this problem. ... [W]e are faced with a kind of violence this nation can not survive ... it has almost the highest priority, among all world issues. ..."
Case Studies in Violence
Many of the child-killers in the Littleton-style incidents were taking mind-altering psychiatric drugs, which had been prescribed by doctors. T.J. Solomon, the 15-year-old from Conyers, Georgia, who shot six classmates in May 1999, was on Ritalin; Eric Harris, 18, one of the two Columbine killers, was taking the anti-depressant Luvox; and Kip Kinkel, the 15-year-old from Springfield, Oregon, who killed both his parents and two schoolmates, and wounded 20 other students in May 1998, had been prescribed the anti-depressant Prozac, one of the most widely prescribed drugs.
These are not isolated cases. Of more than 6 million kids under 18 years of age in America, who have been prescribed Ritalin, Luvox, Prozac, Paxil, and other anti-depressants and psychiatric drugs, for emotional and behaviorial problems, many have committed violent acts, even killings. Many others are walking time-bombs.
On March 6, U.S. News & World Report documented these less-known cases: In California, 16-year-old Jarred Viktor was convicted of murder for stabbing his grandmother 61 times. Ten days earlier, Jarred had been prescribed the anti-depressant Paxil, for preexisting problems. In Kansas, 13-year-old Matt Miller committed suicide (he was found hanging in his closet) after taking the anti-depressant Zoloft for a week. The Miller family has sued Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft.
But the most horrible revelation to date is the documentation that increasing numbers of infants, toddlers, and pre-school children are being zombified with psychiatric drugs produced for adults, before they can even learn to talk, let alone read.
According to JAMA's Feb. 23 article, "Trends in the Prescribing of Psychotropic Medications to Pre-Schoolers," children from poor families, especially African-American children, are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AHDH) and prescribed the stimulant Ritalin (methylphenidate) at younger and younger ages, with the number of prescriptions in two study groups having increased more than 300% during 1991-95. The anti-depressant Prozac is just as abused; the article reports that a psychiatric newsletter, citing marketing data compiled by the Food and Drug Administration in 1994, reported some 3,000 prescriptions for fluoxetine hydrochloride (the generic name for Prozac) written for children younger than one year old!
The findings, written by a group of doctors from the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, and the Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente, in Portland, Oregon, were presented in May 1999, at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Washington, D.C. But the dangerous practices haven't stopped.
The team studied ambulatory care prescription records from 1991 to 1995 from two Medicaid programs (a Midwest state and a Mid-Atlantic state), and from one HMO (health maintenance organization) in the Northwest. Records were checked for enrollees between two and four years old, during those years.
The results should shock the nation: In all three programs, psychotropic medications prescribed for pre-schoolers increased dramatically. The use of methylphenidate increased in all three sites: threefold for the Midwest database, 1.7-fold for the Mid-Atlantic group, and 3.1-fold at the HMO. These records involved over 200,000--more than 158,000 enrolled in the Midwestern state, 54,237 in the Mid-Atlantic state, and 19,322 enrolled in the HMO.
One noticeable pattern is the prevalence of poor children. The Medicaid youth were almost entirely eligible under Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC, the former Federal welfare program), and, within the Medicaid groups, "non-whites were over-represented," i.e., a greater number than in the general population.
There's no question that the poorest children are being abused. The article says that in 1998, "Pediatric researchers noted that 57% of 223 Michigan Medicaid enrollees aged younger than four years with a diagnosis of ADHD, received at least one psychotropic medication to treat this condition." Methylphenidate was one of the two most prescribed.
These results show a pattern of premeditated medical abuse. At a March 3 press conference, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) addressed the concerns posed by the JAMA article. He showed the warnings printed with every bottle of Ritalin. In large type, one says: "Warning: Ritalin should not be used in children under six years, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established." A second warning says: "Precautions: Long-term effects of Ritalin in children have not been well-established." Sen. Dodd demanded that more tests be conducted to test psychiatric drugs on children before they are given out so widely. But the scope of the problem, and the fact that drugs like Ritalin have already killed children in normal doses, and that Ritalin is one of the top ten most abused drugs in the U.S., shows that Sen. Dodd, and others, though well-meaning, are refusing to go beyond "business as usual," against a phenomenon that is escalating the occurrence of the new violence.
The HMOs--Nazi Drug Dispensaries
In 1998 and 1999, the United Nations' report on international drug trends, sounded the warning that 85 to 90% of the MPD (methylphenidate, or Ritalin), produced in the world, is consumed in the United States.
On June 22, Pennsylvania State Rep. LeAnna Washington (D-Phila.), testified at Ad Hoc Democratic Party Platform Hearings, facilitated by Lyndon LaRouche's Presidential campaign committee, in Washington, D.C. Rep. Washington stated:
"In 1987, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was literally voted into existence by the American Psychiatric Association. Within one year, 500,000 children in the United States were diagnosed with this affliction.
"In 1990, the lucrative doors were opened to a cash welfare program to low-income parents whose children were diagnosed with ADHD. A family could get more than $450 a month for each child. In 1989, children with ADHD made up 5% of the disabled population. In 1995, it rose to 25%. In 1991, education grants also funded schools an additional $400 in annual grants money for each child. The same year, the Department of Education recognized it as a handicap, providing children with special services. In 1997, some 4.4 million children were diagnosed with ADHD. In 1996, some $15 billion was spent annually on the diagnosis, treatment, and study of these so-called disorders.
"Ritalin and similar drugs are prescribed to an estimated 6 million to 9 million children and adolescents in the United States. This reflects why Ritalin production has increased an incredible 700% since 1990."
In fact, studies cited in JAMA and the Journal of Public Health, surveying school nurses in two districts of Virginia in 1998, show that among white male students in the fifth grade, 18% and 20%, respectively, were being given Ritalin for "behavioral problems."
But a major reason for this catastrophic rise in rates of psychiatric drug use is the Nazi policy known as "managed health care," through the HMOs that have taken over most health plans today, including Medicaid for the poor, according to Family Therapy Networker an on-line magazine.
The runaway prescribing of anti-depressant drugs for children--with almost 3 million prescriptions written in 1999--is due, in large part, to pressure from managed-care companies that will not pay for therapy or other treatments for children, says an article titled "Generation Rx," by Rob Waters in Family Therapy Networker. This prescribing of drugs as a substitute for therapy, means that children "are being given unproven threatments more haphazardly, and with fewer practical and legal protections, than adults who volunteer to be paid subjects in the clinical trials of new drugs," the article says. In fact, many of the drugs being given to children have not been approved for use in children, and have severe physical and psychological side effects.
"Some doctors say they are uneasy about prescribing psychoactive drugs to kids," the article notes, "but they do so because they doubt that the child's family can get around managed care's barrier to therapy," in which a health plan may refuse to pay, or create months of delays. The situation is even worse for children in poor families. Child psychiatrist Joseph Woolston, the medical director of the children's psychiatric unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital, says the practice of giving psychoactive medication to children has skyrocketed under managed care. "The pressure to medicate children has increased enormously," Woolston says. "Every single day we have at least one case where the managed-care reviewer says to us, 'If you don't start the child on medications within 24 hours after admission, we will not fund another day of hospital."
Woolston says that even more alarming, is the practice of putting "probably tens of thousands of kids" on random combinations of psychoactive medications. "We're using them as guinea pigs, and not even keeping track of them," he says.
Therapists in private practice say that managed-care reviewers almost always suggest referring children for medication after four to six sessions, even when a child's distress is clearly related to a parental divorce or some other identifiable interpersonal problem. "Managed care sees this as a cheap way to get rid of the problem," says one child psychologist.
Heart attacks have felled some children on Ritalin, including a 14-year-old boy in Michigan, and an 11-year-old girl from Ohio. The physical side effects are bad enough, but the psychological ramificiations is nothing short of menticide--America's "opium war" against her own children.