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"Issues and Action in Education"

French Revolt Over "Delinquency Prevention" Tests of 3-Yr-Olds

EdWatch Materials Will Be Used at Paris Event

An e-letter produced by EdWatch, a nonprofit organization. 

November 7, 2007

        This weekend, a hastily assembled coalition of French professionals and parents will come together in Paris to mobilize opposition to the French Government's recent plans to screen very young children for “conduct disorder.”  The event has drawn an unprecedented response, reflecting intense public outrage. About 600 people are scheduled to attend.

        Some of the power point presentation slides used in the course of the day's presentations will be from EdWatch's Dr. Karen Effrem on mental screening of infants and toddlers  (Some of this material is available in the DVD, "Shrinks in the Nursery: The Merging of Mental Health and Preschool.") Last month, Dr. Effrem gave a presentation on this subject in Arlington, Virginia to the 2007 conference of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry & Psychology (ICSPP). (See "Letter to the Wall Street Journal," " Drugging our Poor" and "Mental Health Laws Pose Growing Threat" for further reading.)

        The French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM) recommended early genetic screening to predict juvenile delinquency, which they label "conduct disorder." The government policy for very early detection of “conduct disorders,” would allegedly detect future criminals in the nursery, or even in the mother’s womb. French public opinion is in turmoil. Minority communities in north Minneapolis have also organized to oppose "predictive behavior" mental screening. (See "Using Minorities for Mental Health Research." A DVD is also available: ”Minority and Low-income Families as Psychiatric Guinea Pigs” )

Drugs as a cure-all
A Petition was circulated, as a response to the French recommendations, which immediately drew almost 200,000 signatures. The following is excerpted from the petition:

"A child displaying any of these symptoms would be subjected to a battery of tests. These tests, developed on the basis of behavioural neuropsychological theories, would make it possible to detect any deviation from the standard, according to the criteria established in Anglo-Saxon scientific literature. In adhering to such a deterministic approach and applying a rigid one-dimensional principle, a child’s smallest gesture or mischievousness could be interpreted as a manifestation of a pathological personality.

"This condition would thus necessitate immediate neutralization with a series of steps combining re-education and psychotherapy. Starting at the age of six, the administration of medication, psychostimulants and thymoregulators should succeed in controlling the most recalcitrant cases.

"However, if these recommendations are implemented, wouldn’t they promote the homogenisation of children’s behaviour or provoke a form of child drug addiction, not to mention overburden treatment centres responsible for curing all these sociopathies? By advocating the idea of drugs as a cure-all for educational, psychological and social phenomena, the INSERM report fosters the confusion between social inadaptability and psychic suffering, or even hereditary illnesses. If every manifestation of opposition, inherent to a child’s psychic development, is automatically labelled as 'pathological', if symptoms are taken out of their individual contexts and considered to be predictive factors of delinquency, it makes it impossible to consider each human being’s development as being unique."

Now Available from EdWatch, Newly updated
The Dangers of Mental Health Screening Briefing Book 
by Karen R. Effrem, M.D.
The book also comes with a CD of all its these articles, and a powerpoint presentation

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