Subduing Kids With Drugs
Raise your hand if you've ever given your toddler Children's Tylenol because he was crying and you didn't know what was wrong with him. You wanted to give the child relief, but also, you might want to confess that you were dying to sleep/do your work/give your ears a break. You assumed he was teething. He didn't have any overt signs of illness, though it's possible he was coming down with something. So you gave him Tylenol. Is that a crime??
Some researchers think so. They believe that medicating children can sometimes be a form of neglect or even child abuse. Over a million children in the U.S. suffer from some kind of abuse, but if you add malicious medication to the brew, the numbers may even be higher. Experts say that this type of abuse has become quite common.
Caregivers and even parents are drugging kids to calm their behavior or to give the caregivers/parents themselves a bit of respite from their childcare responsibilities.
The new trend in medicating children to subdue them was discovered by Denver physician Dr. Shan Yin from the Rocky Mountain Poison Drug Center. Yin studied 1,400 cases of children who were suspected of having been the victims of pharmaceutical abuse during the years 2000-2008. These cases had been reported to the National Poison Data System.
In these cases, both parents and caregivers were found to have given children cough syrups, cold medicines, pain killers, alcohol, sleeping pills, sedatives, and antipsychotic medicines to their child charges with malicious intent. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, child abuse falls into four categories: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. Now Dr. Yin adds a fifth form of abuse: the malicious use of pharmaceuticals.
Yin spoke to the media about the motives involved in pharmaceutical abuse of children: amusement, punishment, and the yearning for a break from childcare duties.
Probably the most infamous of case histories for pharmaceutical child abuse is that of Caylee Anthony of Orlando, Florida. The prosecutor's theory is that the 2 year-old died as the result of an ether overdose. It is believed that Caylee's mother Casey gave her daughter ether so she could leave her little girl and go party with friends.
Dr. Yin said that in 14% of the cases he studied, the children experienced moderate to severe injuries, including death. Yin further stated that there are 160 cases like this each year, including a minimum of two deaths. The physician wants emergency medical personnel and pediatricians to be on the lookout for this new type of child abuse and to employ drug screening where there is the suspicion of malicious medication of children.