Kids sent to correctional facilities may be at a high risk of excessive use of psychiatric drugs, according to a recent news report.
A review by investigative news organization PublicSource revealed that juvenile offenders are given psychiatric medication — antipsychotic drugs, to be more specific — at alarmingly high doses. The review said that the amount of antipsychotic drugs ordered by youth correctional facilities was enough to treat about a third of the kids confined in their respective centers over a span of seven years. In contrast, antipsychotic prescription in kids across the U.S. only amount to 1-2 percent of the child population.
The most probable reason behind this high psychiatric drug use in correctional institutions is the instant calming effect of the drugs on potentially troublesome kids. “Most of antipsychotic use is likely for sedation and behavioral control,” according to Dr. Mark Olfson, who led the PublicSource review. Olfson works at the Columbia University Medical Center.
Some juvenile law experts believe that this highlights the need for a radical change in the way correctional institutions think about treating kids. “The great concern among children’s advocates is that … too often the medications are used to the benefit of the institution to control behavior in ways that are not appropriate,” said Juvenile Law Center co-founder Robert Schwartz. Olfson agrees, saying that “the new findings will hopefully spur much-needed institutional reforms.”