The 912 Project-Nebraska Message Board › The NFF Opposes Mandatory Mental Health Screenings for K-12 grades OPPOSE LB 556
TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2013
The NFF Opposes Mandatory Mental Health Screenings
The NFF is greatly concerned about Sen. Amanda McGill's LB556 (see article below) which would require mental health screenings for children entering kindergarten, seventh and ninth grades to identify issues and get them treatment before they become "problem students." Required mental health screening is extremely alarming, but even more alarming is the detailed language in the bill about the screening process itself (in the schools, conducted by individuals with no particular training, free sharing of information about our children's results between the school and DHHS) and the apparent violation of HIPAA privacy laws.
If what we're reading is accurate and Sen. McGill's intent is to force mental health services on all public school families, the NFF will vigorously oppose this bill with the same determination and volume that we used last year in our battle to amend the truancy law. Our schools have no business getting involved in this aspect of our lives.
Enough is enough. Let me state unequivocally that these are OUR children and we will not allow an unqualified stranger to evaluate our 5-year-olds "just in case" they might become problem students. What IS a problem student anyway? A young child who doesn't do "well enough" on a standardized test? A little boy who would rather wiggle around and play in the dirt than sit at his desk and do math? What criteria determines that they need "intervention" and what is that intervention--psychotropic meds? Ritalin so a first grader can get through the day without bothering his teacher? How about foster care or a group home?
This serious, frightening encroachment on our families must be resisted with all our might. This smacks of the sorting and labeling used in totalitarian regimes: "Normal" children get in this line, depressed children over here, oppositional children in line #3. This also smells like another gateway law akin to the truancy law, which has allowed our state to take children from their loving families under the guise of "helping" them.
The NFF is in the process of getting more details on LB556 and will provide updates as soon as possible.
Parents, be prepared for a call to action in defense of our children!
Edited by Darlene Eulie on Jan 30, 2013 1:06 PM
enters at Kearney and Geneva that house juvenile offenders would be closed and the state would move to a treatment-based system, under a proposal introduced Wednesday by a group of four lawmakers.
Sens. Brad Ashford and Bob Krist of Omaha and Kathy Campbell and Amanda McGill of Lincoln co-sponsored a bill (LB561) Wednesday to reorganize the juvenile justice system to focus on mental health treatment instead of punishment.
"We must focus our resources on treatment and rehabilitation rather than institutional confinement," Ashford said. "We need to stop punishing our children and transform our juvenile justice system into a continuum of care that identifies the mental health issues and trauma that cause children to come in contact with the system."
Ashford said about 70 percent of the children in the juvenile justice system have a history of physical abuse, and 40 percent of the girls have a history of sexual abuse.
"The rates for emotional abuse and severe neglect are even higher," Ashford said. "Children who end up in the juvenile justice system are far more likely to witness domestic violence and violence in their schools and communities. By the time children end up in the juvenile justice system, approximately 70 percent of them will have a major mental illness which is undiagnosed, untreated or inappropriately treated.
"Trauma in these children is not systematically screened or treated. We reap what we sow," Ashford said. "Children who end up in the juvenile justice system were victims long before they became offenders."
The measure would allocate $10 million to establish community-based treatment options for young offenders. Another bill (LB556) by McGill would require, among other things, mental-health screenings for children entering kindergarten and seventh and ninth grades to identify issues and get them treatment before they become problem students.
"There are ... kids out there whose needs are not being met,'' McGill said.
The $21 million spent each year at the youth treatment centers would be allocated to the court system to help set up treatment programs. The centers would close by January 2015.
Ashford's bill would create an Office of Juvenile Assistance under the court system to oversee juvenile probation, a statewide expansion of the Nebraska Juvenile Service Delivery Project, coordination of work with local and national experts in the delivery of evidence-based services, the Office of Violence Prevention and the newly created Office of Juvenile Diversion Programs and Detention Alternatives.
Ashford said most of the employees at the youth treatment centers -- who now work for the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Juvenile Services -- would be assimilated into the Department of Correctional Services.
Reach Kevin O'Hanlon at 402-473-2682 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brad Ashford, Kathy Campbell, Amanda Mcgill, Bob Krist, Juvenile Justice, Mental Healrth Services, Youth Treatment Centers
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