Law would let schools diagnose kids 'mentally ill'

( WND )

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Leaders of some 130 organizations are warning Texas Gov. Greg Abbott of the possible dangers of a proposed law designed to improve school safety.

It’s because the bill would require schools to set up “threat assessment teams” to identify students deemed a suicide risk and turn them in to mental health authorities.

“Even the most well-intentioned government law or program can be – and has been – perverted, corrupted and used to advance illegitimate purposes once profit and power are added to the equation, which is the concern with these school safety laws,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute.

“This program is part of a nationwide push to empower non-medically trained individuals to ‘identify,’ label and refer students for treatment who they believe may exhibit suicidal or mentally ill behavior. Worse, these threat assessments – no matter how inaccurate or subjective – could stigmatize a child for the rest of his or her life,” said Whitehead, a signatory of the letter to Abbott.

The bill comes in the wake of the May 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 people dead and 13 wounded.

Among the other endorsers of the letter were the Southern Baptists of Texas, Texas Eagle Forum President Trayce Bradford, Rachel Malone of the Gun Owners of America and Lacey Hull of We the Parents Coalition.

They are asking Abbott to veto the bill not only because it could unfairly label children, but also because it “could be used as a Trojan Horse to allow pharmaceutical companies to push anti-psychotic drugs on children and empower schools to override parental decisions regarding the counseling and treatment of their children on issues of suicide and mental health.”

The letter points out that predicting who may have trouble is not the right way to address the problem.

“The idea that one could pinpoint those who will ‘potentially’ become dangerous and then get them the ‘help they need’ is abhorrent to us. No one can predict evil. Even if they could, there is nothing to suggest that mental health treatment can prevent it,” the leaders wrote.

“Using Threat Assessment Teams to scrutinize children, question children, and offer subjective assessments of risk, without providing true information on the frailties of such assessments, and without full Miranda warnings is an affront to parental and civil rights,” they said.

“What defines ‘at risk’? The problem with mental screening in general and with labeling ‘at-risk’ children with a psychiatric label is that the already admittedly subjective diagnostic criteria are even more difficult to apply to children.”

Further, they warn, “mental health education” is more likely to become an indoctrination tool, a marketing tool, than it is to help children.

“There are at least two major cases in Texas where books, coloring books, or similar materials were used to either fill hospital beds or steer children toward medication,” they wrote.

“We believe that families, their chosen communities, and their churches are charged with our children’s social, emotional, and moral education. There has been increasing controversy over schools teaching about family values, relationships, belief systems or behaviors. Transparency has also been a problem. We do not support legislation that would allow our role, our God given duty, to be undermined by the state.”

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