- Statement of Principle -
In Opposition to Schools’ Conditioning
A Child’s Attendance on the Taking of a
Psychotropic Drug Like Ritalin®
Parents around the country are reporting
that school administrators are telling parents that their child may not
attend school unless he or she is placed on Ritalin or a similar
The CCLE maintains that it is wrong to restrict public benefits—especially
a child's education—based on the use or nonuse of psychotropic
We maintain that the choice to place a child on a
psychotropic medication should only be made by the child’s parents or legal
guardians, voluntarily, and after a full disclosure of the potential
benefits and risks of such medication. In no case should parents be
pressured or compelled to drug their children as a precondition to attending
school or receiving other public benefits.
The following ten principles support our Statement:
1. Conditioning a public benefit – such as public education – on a
child’s use or nonuse of a psychotropic medication is an unlawful and
unauthorized governmental act.
2. Such a coercive governmental action encroaches upon one of the most
sanctified of human relationships – the intimate relationship between a
parent and child.
3. An individual's right of to liberty, autonomy and privacy over his or
her own thought processes is situated at the core of what it means to be a
free person. It is essential to the most elementary concepts of human
freedom, dignity, and limited government.
4. Developments in neuroscience, pharmacology and technology are giving
rise to new drugs specifically designed and/or marketed for changing how a
5. Psychotropic drugs directly affect a person’s thought processes. One
of the best-known psychotropic medicines is Ritalin® (methylphenidate).
6. Different psychotropic medications have different risk/benefit
profiles, as do different doses of the same medication. While acknowledging
these differences, we recognize that psychotropic medications are not
inherently “good” or “bad.”
7. Some parents have seen their children’s lives improved by using
psychotropic medications. Others parents have found that some negative
effects of psychotropic medications overshadowed beneficial effects. We
respect both perspectives.
8. Some parents decide to place their children on psychotropic drugs,
and other parents decide not to. So long as these decisions are made in the
best interests of the particular child we respect either decision.
9. Except in extraordinary circumstances, parents are vested with a
legal right to decide whether use of a given medication is in their child’s
10. In order to exercise this right responsibly, a parent must be free to
consider a wide array of information about a proposed medication and/or
diagnosis. The parent must be free to evaluate the potential risks and
benefits of placing his or her child on a particular psychotropic