A Front Group for the Psycho-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex

Updated: April 1, 2006 12:25 PM EST

TeenScreen is a very controversial so-called "diagnostic psychiatric service" aka suicide survey; done on children who are then referred to psychiatric treatment. The evidence suggests that the objective of the psychiatrists who designed TeenScreen is to place children so selected on psychotropic drugs.

"It's just a way to put more people on prescription drugs," said Marcia Angell, a medical ethics lecturer at Harvard Medical School and author of "The Truth About Drug Companies." She said such programs will boost the sale of antidepressants even after the FDA in September ordered a "black box" label warning that the pills might spur suicidal thoughts or actions in minors. (The New York Post, December 5, 2004)

TeenScreen is based on the thoroughly discredited "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders".

Procedure on Young Children

Step One

TeenScreen lures kids as young as 9 years old into doing the suicide survey by offering them free movie passes, food coupons, "I completed TeenScreen" stress balls and pizza parties, if they consent to the procedure.

One tactic TeenScreen officials use is to sell the child on the suicide survey first and after they have the child's agreement, they later contact parents.

TeenScreen Project Coordinator, Kathleen Cigich, was quoted as saying: "We found early on, though, that sending out letters directly to parents is prohibitively time consuming and gets a low response rate. We thought, why not go to students themselves and offer a $5 video store coupon to anyone who brings back a parental consent form within a two-day turnaround period. It works. Our response rate is extremely high."

TeenScreen also utilizes a "passive consent" form which requires no written parental approval. The passive consent form is sent home to parents and if they don't return it TeenScreen considers that the parents approve. TeenScreen officials favor passive consent because they say it boosts their chances of screening kids to 95% as opposed to the written parental consent technique. What if the child forgets to bring the consent form home? What happens if the parent is too busy to refuse in writing? They've consented in the eyes of TeenScreen personnel.

Step Two

The youngster is sat down and asked introverting questions such as:

  • Has there been a time when nothing was fun for you and you just weren't interested in anything?
  • Has there been a time when you felt you couldn't do anything well or that you weren't as good-looking or as smart as other people?
  • How often did your parents get annoyed or upset with you because of the way you were feeling or acting?
  • Have you often felt very nervous when you've had to do things in front of people?
  • Have you often worried a lot before you were going to play a sport or game or do some other activity?
  • Have you tried to kill yourself in the last year?
  • Are you still thinking of killing yourself?
  • Have you thought seriously about killing yourself?
  • Have you often thought about killing yourself??
  • Have you ever tried to kill yourself?

Step Three

Based on the answers the child gives to the above questions he is then shuffled off to a "clinician", who ponders the bogus label to use.

Social Phobia?

Panic Disorder?


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Active Suicide Ideation?

Passive Suicide Ideation?

You can find the checklist used to label the child here: labeling checklist


Parents are being mislead by a multi billion-dollar a year child drugging industry that a diagnoses of "mental disorder" (ADHD, Bi-Polar, Social Anxiety Disorder) are medical diseases or illnesses. This is a fraud. No child has a brain scan, blood test, X-Ray or any evidence of physical abnormality to verify they are "ill" or "diseased."

Yet psychiatrists continue to pound the public with misleading and fraudulent statements that these so called mental disorders are biochemical or neurological conditions. That is false. They are simply a list of behaviors that psychiatrists vote into existence and insert into their billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

This has led to over 8 million children in the U.S. taking mind-altering psychiatric drugs.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is psychiatry's billing bible of "disorders" from which psychiatric screening, diagnoses and their treatment are derived. The current edition lists 374 psychiatric conditions that have been identified as mental disorders.

Yet, the disorders contained in the DSM-IV are arrived at by consensus, not by scientific criteria. There are no blood tests, brain scans, X-Rays, MRIs or "chemical imbalance" tests that can scientifically validate any mental "disorder" as a disease or illness. Canadian psychologist Tana Dineen reports, "Unlike medical diagnoses that convey a probable cause, appropriate treatment and likely prognosis, the disorders listed in DSM-IV are terms arrived at through peer consensus"- literally, a vote by APA committee members.

Step Four

The "clinician" summarizes his report and comes up with an "impairment score".

Step Five

Based on how the child answered the "suicide survey", and which label the clinician conjured up and how the child did on his "impairment score" the child is then sent off for "treatment".

What treatment?
Drugs. A survey of recently trained child psychiatrists found the treatment for 9 out of 10 children consisted of drugging. (Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry 2002)

The "treatment" used on children with these bogus labels can be found here: Medication Guidelines

"Treatment" is the long term goal for TeenScreen according to their director, Laurie Flynn.

What does the Food and Drug Administration say about these drugs? See here: Black Box Warning

TeenScreen — no evidence of workability
TeenScreen officials admit that there have been no studies that show that their program reduces suicide. That is not surprising, because the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force report of May of 2004 states:

A. There is no evidence that screening for suicide risk reduces suicide attempts or mortality.

B. There is limited evidence on the accuracy of screening tools to identify suicide risk.

C. There is insufficient evidence that treatment of those at high risk reduces suicide attempts or mortality.

D. No studies were found that directly address the harms of screening and treatment for suicide risk.

TeenScreen has no proof that their survey reduces suicide rates. The co-director of TeenScreen Rob Caruano, says that suicides are so rare that you'd have to screen the whole country to see a difference in mortality between screened and unscreened students.

TeenScreen was established in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1997 . According to a 2003 Tulsa World newspaper article, Mike Brose, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, stated: "To the best of my knowledge, this is the highest number of youth suicides we've ever had during the school year -- a number we find very frightening."

Psychiatrists are even coming forth saying TeenScreen is unworkable. Nathaniel Lehrman says: "The claim by the director of the TeenScreen Program that her program would significantly reduce suicides is unsupported by the data. Indeed, such screenings would probably cause more harm than good. It is impossible, on cursory examination, or on the basis of the Program's brief written screening test, to detect suicidality or "mental illness," however we define it. "

So much for the workability of TeenScreen.

There is no Suicide Epidemic
Child Suicides are Rare
Certainly any parent suffers a heavy burden of grief over the loss of a child and our hearts go out to any family that suffers such a tragedy.

However, the fact is suicide amongst children is very rare. TeenScreen's sales pitch constantly stated is that "Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death amongst children!" This is the tactic they use to gain sympathy from parents and school administrators and use this to create in the media, a suicide hysteria, when in fact child suicides are very rare. For instance in Florida, the number is 50 per year. Coincidentally, 50 is the same number of people who are struck by lightning each year in Florida. 50 out of close to 4 million children is not an epidemic.

Suicides are on the decline. Suicide among American youngsters and teens fell about 25 percent in the last decade. The suicide rate for ages 10 to 19 fell from 6.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 1992 to 4.6 per 100,000 in 2001, according to the Center for Disease Control. In 1991, 10 of 100,000 people in Florida ages 10-24 committed suicide. By 1999, that number had dropped to six out of 100,000.

Suicides generally have been on the decline since 1987. The rate of suicide for 19 years of age and younger is less now than in 1981, reaching their most recent highest peak in 1988.

The true story is that the majority of child suicides in Florida had been on psychotropic drugs or had already received psychiatric treatment, which is completely consistent with the recent flood of FDA and international warnings that these drugs can create suicidal ideation.

There is no epidemic of suicide in young people. The recent "suicide hysteria" is only the marketing strategy of the suicide "prevention" industry, ie the very controversial psychiatric based TeenScreen program.

Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment
The PPRA is intended to protect the rights of parents and students in two ways. It seeks to ensure that schools make psychological surveys such as TeenScreen available for inspection by parents and seeks to ensure that schools obtain written parental consent.

TeenScreen says that if a local mental health screening program is approved by the Board of Education as part of the educational program, they are not required to get active parental consent under PPRA

The U.S. Department of Education says TeenScreen's statement is not right and says the question of whether "active" consent is required under PPRA is not based on whether the program is part of the school's education program. Rather, PPRA requires schools to obtain prior written consent ("active") before a student is required to take a survey that is funded by the U.S. Department of Education (in whole or in part) and that asks questions such as the above questions TeenScreen poses to children.

The Visible Players

Origin of TeenScreen? A drug company paid psychiatrist!
David Shaffer
TeenScreen was developed by psychiatrist David Shaffer. Shaffer is a consultant (see page 21 of this Executive Summary report) and apologist of pharmaceutical companies. Shaffer has served as an expert witness for various drug companies and a consultant on various psychotropic drugs.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sent out a press release on May 8, 2000, that said Shaffer was their president and they had just released a national survey they had done on suicide. The funder of the survey? A pharmaceutical company. Shaffer's American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has also received $1,250,000 from yet another drug company.

Shaffer attempted to block negative British findings
In December of 2003 British drug regulators recommended against the use of antidepressants in the treatment of depressed children under 18 because some of the drugs had been linked to suicidal thoughts and self-harm. According to a December 11, 2003, New York Times article, article, Shaffer tried to block the agencies effort to warn parents and protect children. The newspaper reports that Shaffer, at the request of a maker of psychotropic drugs, sent a letter to the British drug agency saying that there was insufficient data to restrict the use of the drugs in adolescents.

Shaffer on TeenScreen's False Positives
Shaffer says that TeenScreen "does identify a whole bunch of kids who aren’t really suicidal, so you get a lot of false-positives. And that means if you’re running a large program at a school, you’re going to cripple the program because you’re going to have too many kids you have to do something about."

When Shaffer was asked how he addresses people who question the dangers of prescribing to the false-positives, he says: "I think that standing by itself that criticism is meaningless because we don’t know what harm the antidepressants do, if any, and we don’t know who they do harm to".

Shaffer on the DSM (TeenScreen is based on the DSM)
Shaffer was one of the psychiatrists who had a hand in "developing" the thoroughly discredited DSM - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Psychiatry's Bible). In a National Public Radio interview, (August 18, 2003) Shaffer described the process:

"People (psychiatrists) would shout out their opinions from all sides of the room and whoever shouted loudest tended to be heard. My own impression, coming straight from England, was it was more like a tobacco auction than a sort of conference"

David (No Science behind Screening) Shaffer
The National Academies, (Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering and Medicine) scheduled a debate for Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006. The topic: "Screening for Mental Illness in Youth: Good Preventive Medicine?" David Shaffer was scheduled to debate Vera Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection. Shaffer chickened out and cancelled his appearance. Ms. Sharav carried on without Shaffer. Sharav: "Dr. Shaffer, the architect of TeenScreen, and its promoters ceaselessly claim that evidence underlies mass screening efforts. If there is evidence, why has he refused to present it?" See Ms. Sharav debate the absent TeenScreen psychiatrist in this video.

TeenScreen's Director: Laurie Flynn
Laurie Flynn, TeenScreen's director, searches out teens who have committed suicide and then writes letters to the editors throughout the country, promoting TeenScreen as the "solution". Flynn is no stranger to the pharmaceutical industry. She formally served as the head of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill which received millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies. Flynn has a tough time selling TeenScreen. TeenScreen has resorted to luring kids with movie rental coupons and food and drink coupons, simply for the return of a release form, whether or not the student agrees to be screened.

Flynn perjured herself in a Capitol Hill Hearing on March 2, 2004, in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Bill H.R. 3063, when she testified: "In partnership with the University of South Florida we are piloting district wide mental health screening of 9th graders in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties". But in fact, the day before Flynn's testimony, the Hillsborough County School District said they were not partnering with TeenScreen, did not feel comfortable with the information provided by TeenScreen and had serious concerns about TeenScreen including liability and risk issues. In Pinellas County, TeenScreen is prohibited from doing their suicide survey because Board policy protects the identity of students when surveys are done. In addition, the Pinellas County School Board Superintendent, Dr. Clayton Wilcox, has serious reservations about partnering with such an organization.

E-mails are public record in Florida if sent to a government agency. Here is one example of Flynn's "confidential" e-mails. She says she needs a horse to ride and she needs those kids screened!

Flynn should learn to just say no to drugs .

TeenScreen's Co-Director: Leslie McGuire

Mcguire's presentation at the national NAMI convention June 2005:

"Getting the kids to buy in is such an essential thing because for the most part, you're distributing the consent forms to the kids to bring home to their parents and bring them back. So you have to get their buy in, you have to get them interested in it." When asked about "incentives", McGuire replied: "Hollywood Video coupons, you get that regardless. Even if the form says no, you still get the reward."

"I've been talking a bit about this campaign of mis-information that's going on. And we do need your help, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to pass around a blank notebook here. And if anyone in this room would be willing to be contacted if umm there if, if there was a sort of a uprising against screening in your community we have lots of people throughout the country who - ya' know - there might already be screening going on in your community, we may ask you to write a letter to the editor in support of screening. We could possibly ask you to go to a school board meeting, umm something like that. Obviously this would be your choice, but, we are starting to create really a response network and an e-mail list sorta' kinda thing, to keep people in the loop on this, ummm, so I'll pass it around and if you're interested please sign up."

William J. Ruane
Investment Advisor
Although the name TeenScreen was not mentioned, the New York Times, reported, on December 17, 1998 that William J. Ruane, an investment advisor put $8 million into the screening research of Shaffer, the TeenScreen psychiatrist.

As far back as 1995, Ruane already had a "longstanding relationship" (see bottom of reference) with Shaffer. In June of 1995 the Ruanes funded a professorship of Pediatric Psychopharmacology which "supported training and research into the effectiveness of psychopharmacological agents in treating childhood psychiatric disorders".

The Psychiatric Times reported in March of 1998 that Ruane and wife Joy, gave 1.5 million to study the effects of psychiatric drugs in children to the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Shaffer's home base.

According to a New York Post article in 1999, the New York State Psychiatric Institute conducted experiments on kids, some as young as 6, with a powerful mood-altering drug and failed to tell the children or their parents about the most serious risks. While testing the drug on 30 severely depressed patients ages 12 to 18, researcher's notes indicated "Some patients have been reported to have an increase in suicidal thoughts and/or violent behavior". Records showed that at least four experiments used this drug on young children including one funded by a large pharmaceutical company.

TeenScreen Sales Duo, (Florida Region)
David Shern and Justin Doan
In Florida, David Shern and his sidekick, Justin Doan, both of the Florida Mental Health Institute attempted to lobby the Pinellas County School Board to change it's policy on anonymous surveys of children. Shern wanted the school board policy changed so that he could obtain the names of children after the suicide survey was done on them. He did not want student surveys to be anonymous, as they are now under existing regulations.

Shern, Doan and company received $180,000 to sell TeenScreen to the local school boards. Shern and his FMHI have also raked in cash from pharmaceutical companies to study anti-psychotic drugs: $381,664 from a major pharmaceutical company and $130,416 from another.

The Tampa Tribune posed some good questions on March 7, 2004: "What if someone at risk is identified, but there's no one who can help? What if the test misses someone at risk? What if the test falsely identifies someone who isn't at risk?"

"Liability comes up immediately," Shern said.

On March 22, 2004, Laurie Flynn, TeenScreen's Director, said in a "confidential e-mail" that she had concerns about Shern and his inability to get TeenScreen going in Florida. She said that Doan was a concern, that he's young, full of himself and not very politically savvy. She said that he had never screened a kid or run a project and that when he goes into meetings with local school officials he gets into deep water.

Foster Care report warns of adverse side effects of drugs on children
A report entitled "Psychotropic Drug Use in Foster Care", by the Florida Statewide Advocacy Council, discovered that of the 1,180 children reviewed 652 were on one or more psychotropic drugs. The report warned of the side effects of these drugs including suicidal tendencies. The report concluded that unnecessary dispensing of psychotropic drugs remains a threat to the children. They recommended that their findings be incorporated into an agenda in order to preserve and protect the health, safety, welfare and rights of children.

Pharmaceutical Industry Front Group
TeenScreen refuses to divulge the source of their funding. Their website says they are funded by private family foundations, corporations and individuals without naming them. One corner of the Internet did give a clue to their funding: A large pharmaceutical company funded the TeenScreen program in Tennessee. (See page 4, left, mid-page).

According to their 10 year strategy, TeenScreen wants to make the suicide survey available to all American children. Their long term goal is psychiatric "treatment" of our children.

Since 1991, the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has invested nearly $19 million in the "research" and development of the TeenScreen program. Who will reap the returns?

TeenScreen says that 24% of the kids that are referred after screening are drugged. That percentage may be much higher.

No wonder drug companies are tripping over themselves wanting to sponsor Screening.

In Colorado over 350 youths were suicide screened using TeenScreen's survey. They found that over 50% were at risk of suicide and 71% screened positive for psychiatric disorders at a youth homeless shelter. That's not science! That's a dream come true for pharmaceutical company marketing types and bean counters.


Anaheim, California
On March 29, 2006, New York City TeenScreen sales personnel were sent to Anaheim, California to deliver a sales pitch to thousands of psychologists from across the nation who were attending the annual convention of the National Association of School Psychologists. They unexpectedly encountered heavy opposition to their plan to screen every child in the United States. Instead of agreement with their "program", TeenScreen was met with: 125 picketers, TV reporters on the scene, radio interviews of protestors, Psychologists agreeing with the picketers, Psychologists disagreeing with child drugging, Picket signs such as: “Educate, Don’t Medicate”, “Hug me. Don’t drug me”, “I’m just a Teen, not mentally ill”.

Berryhill Senior High School, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Spring 2005 - 257 Consent forms sent to parents. Only 36 consented. (14%)

Cherry Hill, New Jersey
According to a story published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on February 9, 2006, only 68 sophomores out of about 960 in both schools took the test in 2005. Only 7%. In 2006, at Cherry Hill West, where all 1,600 students were to be screened only 27 parents consented. A mere 1.68%.

Hillsborough County, Florida
School officials did not feel comfortable with the information provided by TeenScreen to implement it anywhere in the district and did not have all their questions answered by the organization. They stated that TeenScreen continued to say to others that Hillsborough County had "partnered" with them when, in fact, they were only exploring. Officials in Hillsborough County had serious concerns about TeenScreen including confidentiality, the "capacity" in the community for follow up mental services for identified students, the lack of information from other school districts, the lack of written agreements with community mental health providers, "ill defined" levels of "at risk" concerns as a result of the screenings, the lack of a well defined "continuity of care" and liability for the school district.

Jenks Freshman Academy, Tulsa, Oklahoma
The TeenScreen was only conducted at Jenks Freshman Academy one time in February/March 2003. Jenks Public Schools dropped TeenScreen primarily because the school was not given access to the statistical data that resulted.

Las Vegas, Nevada
About 20 people from the Libertarian Party of Clark County, Nevada showed up at county school district headquarters to protest mental health screening of children, reported the Law Vegas Review Journal on August 20, 2005. "Maybe the kid is having a bad day that day. They'll say he's depressed and screen them," said activist Rebecca Iocca.

Mishawaka, Indiana
Teresa and Michael Rhoades, parents in Osceola, Indiana became aware that their daughter was "suicide screened" without any parental consent whatsoever. TeenScreen used what they call passive consent, a skimpy form with no warnings. Parents who did not sign the form and return it were considered to have given permission. The trouble is Teresa and Michael did not receive the passive consent form. Teresa Rhoades became active in informing citizens in her area that TeenScreen had infiltrated their school system. Local TV and newspaper covered Teresa's story. One newspaper reported about a half-page ad that ran in the paper there against TeenScreen: "The ad says diagnosis of psychological problems is entirely subjective and there is no evidence that screening for suicide risk reduces suicide attempts."

On February 28th, 2005, the Superintendent recommended in front of concerned parents that TeenScreen be suspended pending a thorough study and also recommended that "passive consent" be abolished.

On June 9, 2005, the South Bend Tribune reported that Teresa and Michael filed papers to sue the Madison Center and also Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation. They claim their daughter took the test, was improperly diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. The family intends to seek the "maximum amount of damages."

The Elkhart Truth reported on February 02, 2006 that protestors carried signs outside Penn High School, emphasizing their point for the school not to use a TeenScreen.

On February 9, 2006, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that parents consenting to TeenScreen at this school district fell dramatically. Only 35 of about 830 10th graders signed up - only 4.2%.

Monroe County, Pennsylvania
TeenScreen isn't getting much use in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. That's according to the Pocono Record who said on January 15, 2006 that TeenScreen is hampered there with little parental cooperation. Only 1 to 7 percent consent to having their children screened. The Record said that apparently it's because parents fear their children will be labeled mentally ill.

Pinellas County, Florida

On January 25, 2005, the Pinellas County School Board decided in front of many concerned citizens that TeenScreen should not be implemented there. School Board member Jane Gallucci said that she was angry that Laurie Flynn told a U.S. Senate committee on health and education matters 10 months ago that pilot TeenScreen programs were operating in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Board Chairwoman Nancy Bostock called the program "an intrusion for our students.'' False labels could embarrass students and cause turmoil at home. "We could seriously do more harm than good," she said.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, February 6, 2005, Ken Kramer spearheaded opposition to TeenScreen in Pinellas County. Kramer saw the program as a thinly veiled attempt to get more kids into the psychiatric system and on psychotropic drugs. That, he said, is the real cause of high rates of teen suicide. Kramer encouraged friends to e-mail the School Board and argue against TeenScreen. Bombarded with more than 700 e-mails, the board voted 6-1 not to go with TeenScreen. The lone school board member said that she believed most of the e-mails came from people who believe that psychiatrists are drug pushers, abusive and cause suicide.

West Burlington Jr./Sr. High (Iowa)
"We did not make a board presentation since last year was considered a trial for the district. Our official statement to the press is: We believe that as a small-sized school, we can monitor our students well enough to be proactive in directing parents to community resources for help." Ron Teater, Principal, West Burlington Jr./Sr. High


Just contact us with your story on TeenScreen and we will include it here.


1. Does the TeenScreen Program endorse mental health screening for all teens?
The goal of TeenScreen is to screen every child in the United States by the time they're out of high school. According to TeenScreen's Director, Laurie Flynn, their long term goal is "treatment" for "those in need."

2. Does TeenScreen recommend treatment?
TeenScreen materials say they make no treatment recommendations. However, let's pose this question: If you have a child who's been asked a battery of potentially upsetting questions, has been labeled with a bogus "mental disorder", has been assigned a certain "impairment score" and then referred to a psychiatrist, what do you think the treatment will be? When TeenScreen says they do not recommend treatment it's like the gallows builder saying he didn't hang that man!

3. Is TeenScreen free?
TeenScreen's promotional materials claim their suicide survey is free. Gwen Luney, assistant superintendent for supportive services and federal programs at Hillsborough County (Florida) Schools, says TeenScreen would cost the school district roughly $200,000 a year -- $200K they don't have. "We're hesitant to commit to a new program if there's a strong possibility we'll be seeing some [money] shortfalls. Also, are we going to find a place for this [diagnosed] child to go? If so, what if the child doesn't have insurance? Who picks up the cost? Does it get passed on to the county? It can't be passed on to the school district. And the liability factor is greater now that you've identified [the at-risk student]."

Even at a very small high school like Brimfield High School, in the Peoria, Illinois area, the cost is not cheap. According to a Peoria Journal Star article dated July 11, 2004 "organizing the system and employing a part-time counselor specifically for the program is estimated to cost about $100 per student... The Brimfield High School program alone will cost around $20,000 for the first semester."

4. Where are all the schools that use TeenScreen?
It's all a big secret. According to TeenScreen's director Leslie McGuire, they are fearful there will be an uprising against mental health screening, therefore TeenScreen refuses to divulge their locations. They use a canned e-mail message: "We get a lot of requests from people who are interested in locating and speaking directly with local TeenScreen sites and this can become a burden on them. We are not authorized to give out our sites contact information unless we have requested their permission to do so."

5. What is "passive consent"? What does this really mean?
Passive Consent is way to get around written parental consent and an effective method to get more children screened. Passive consent requires parents to return a form only if they do not want their child to participate in the screening.

According to an e-mail sent by a school official concerning implementation of TeenSceen, "The interest would be to screen as many as possible, beginning in 9th grade. The Passive acceptance style was mostly discussed to increase the numbers from 50% for Consent to near 95% for Passive"

This means if a parent does not open the mail or was too busy to study the form and return it or if a child as young as 9 years old loses the form on the way home, then TeenScreen will accept that as "parental consent".

A federal law known as the Protection of Pupil Rights Act, requires written parental consent before a child undergoes a survey, analysis or evaluation. A TeenScreen newsletter discusses making screening a matter of the schools curriculum as a method to bypass this law and use passive consent instead.

According to Leslie McGuire, TeenScreen's director, 25% of their programs use passive consent.

Passive consent is controversial and has already upset parents. Teresa Rhoades is one parent who found out about "passive consent" but only after it was too late.

Has your child received a mental health screening without your written permission? Contact us.

6. Are student records confidential?
No. TeenScreen officials require that all screening results be shared with them. TeenScreen says that various personnel such as school officials, various organizations conducting certain studies and other "appropriate officials" may be privy to student records and that "Screening personnel should determine with the school officials whether or not they are permitted access to student records without the formal consent of parents".

7. Does talking about suicide encourage teens to attempt suicide?
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force report of May of 2004, no studies were found that directly address the harms of screening and treatment for suicide risk.

8. Is the pharmaceutical industry behind TeenScreen?
Absolutely. Their national advisory council is full of major pharmaceutical company connections.

9. How prevalent is suicide in teens?
It's very rare. For example the number is 50 per year out of over 3.5 million students in the State of Florida. Coincidentally, the number 50 is the same number of people who get hit by lightning in Florida each year.

10. Do children screened using the TeenScreen suicide survey wind up on dangerous antidepressants?
Absolutely. 9 out of 10 children referred to psychiatrists are prescribed psychotropic drugs.

11. What can I do?
E-mail your school district superintendent and ask if TeenScreen has been implemented or if there are any plans to implement it. Keep things in writing. If the answer is yes, alert other parents and voice your opposition. Let us know what you find out and what you are doing about it. File a "parental informed consent notice" with your child's school. Click here for a sample.

No Child Left Unmedicated

Grateful acknowledgement is made to Phyllis Schlafly for permission to reproduce the following 2 paragraphs from her article No Child Left Unmedicated, March 1, 2005. Phyllis is a columnist, commentator, author, and founder of the Eagle Forum.

Parental rights are unclear or nonexistent under these mental health screening programs. What are the rights of youth and parents to refuse or opt out of such screening? Will they face coercion and threats of removal from school, or child neglect charges, if they refuse privacy-invading interrogations or unproved medications? How will a child remove a stigmatizing label from his records?

A pilot project for screening students, called TeenScreen, resulted in one-third of the subjects being flagged as "positive" for mental health problems. Half of those were turned over for mental health treatment. If that is a preview of what would happen when 52 million public school students are screened, it would mean hanging a libelous label on 17 million American children and forcibly putting 8 million children into the hands of the psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry.

It is time the American public squarely confronts TeenScreen's insidious assault on our children.

Researcher Ken Kramer records@psychsearch.net

Google Groups Subscribe to Parents Against TeenScreen
Browse Archives at groups-beta.google.com

The Clarion-Leader
August 13, 2002

"Unelected school boards should not presume to have the authority to place psychiatry, which is highly controversial, into the public school system. Concerned Women for America of Mississippi takes the position that mental health should not be associated with or appear to be associated with public school property or with any public education personnel."
—Glenda Gill
Legislative Liaison
Concerned Women for America of Mississippi

The Arizona Republic
August 16, 2002

"Programs like TeenScreen experiment on kids, who will eventually end up on psychotropic drugs...I went through what I went through because they were on antidepressants."
—Mark Taylor
Survivor - Columbine High School shooting

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 21, 2003

"Authorities in schools should be very cautious about these kinds of screening programs. It is easy to overidentify adolescents with problems, when they in fact don't have any problems. This in itself creates more problems."
—Louis A. Chandler
Chairman of the Psychology in Education Department
University of Pittsburgh.

The Olympian
September 25, 2004

"We should ask ourselves: What kind of people would we have become if the government tested us and forced our parents to drug us in order to settle us down?"
—Rosie Morton

Eagle Forum
November 16, 2004

"Big Brother is on the march. A plan to subject all children to mental health screening is under way, and pharmaceutical companies are gearing up for bigger sales of psychotropic drugs."
—Phyllis Schlafly
Lawyer, Political Analyst and Author

The New York Post
December 5, 2004

"It's just a way to put more people on prescription drugs... such programs will boost the sale of antidepressants ... even after the FDA in September ordered a black box label warning that the pills might spur suicidal thoughts or actions in minors."
—Marcia Angell
Medical Ethics Lecturer
Harvard Medical School

United Press International
December 15, 2004

"What are the credentials of the screeners? Most importantly, how many children have they raised to adulthood, and with what outcome?"
—Dr. Jane M. Orient
Executive Director
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

Christian Science Monitor
January 20, 2005

"The pharmaceutical companies have been heavily involved in pushing programs like this, and they have an obvious, overt economic interest...They'll sell a lot more drugs if they can get more people diagnosed and put on them. We ought to be concerned about that."
—Sheldon Richman
Senior Fellow
Future of Freedom Foundation

Tampa Tribune
January 25, 2005

When Cheslea Rhoades took the test at her Osceola, Ind., high school last month, a clinician told her she demonstrated social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. She was stunned. So was her mom. "My daughter is an honor-roll student. She's in five clubs. There's nothing wrong with this kid," said Teresa Rhoades, Chelsea's mother.

Tampa Tribune
January 25, 2005

Board Chairwoman Nancy Bostock called the program "an intrusion for our students." False labels could embarrass students and cause turmoil at home. "We could seriously do more harm than good," she said.

Tampa Tribune
January 26, 2005

Pinellas school board member Jane Gallucci...said Tuesday that she was angry that Laurie Flynn told a U.S. Senate committee on health and education matters 10 months ago that pilot TeenScreen programs were operating in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

US Fed News
January 31, 2005

"It is important to understand that powerful interests, namely federal bureaucrats and pharmaceutical lobbies, are behind the push for mental health screening in schools...the pharmaceutical industry is eager to sell psychotropic drugs to millions of new customers in American schools."
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas

Des Moines Register
March 21, 2005

I see it as stepping into my role as a mom," said Pam Wheeler, who has a freshman and a senior at Des Moines' Lincoln High School, an Iowa TeenScreen site. "If these are 15-and 16-year-old kids, depending on the day of the week, or of the month, if they didn't make cheerleading or something, how does that affect this screening?" she asked.

The Washington Times
March 29, 2005

To paraphrase Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," the fault is not in our children's brains or genes, but in ourselves, and it is to our own treatment of children we must look to find an answer to their problems - and ours.
Keith Hoeller
Review of Existential Psychology & Psychiatry

Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph
May 9, 2005

"The claim children are suffering from a 'chemical imbalance', the cornerstone of psychiatry's disease model, is nothing more than a myth."
Brian Daniels
Citizens Commission on Human Rights UK

Sarasota Herald Tribune
May 17, 2005

"Scientific truth cannot be suppressed permanently. Eventually it will be widely known that people with normal brains can become mad by living in toxic social environments, and that the best therapy is based on caring relationships. I say this with trepidation because any criticism of the current chemical model brings angry denunciation from believers".
George W. Albee
Emeritus professor, University of Vermont

Independent Media TV
May 22, 2005

Its time to start placing the blame for the rise in teen suicide where it belongs; on the greedy bastards involved in programs like TeenScreen who invent schemes to get our kids hooked on these dangerous drugs in the first place.
—Evelyn Pringle

Letter to Florida Secretary of State
May 26, 2005

"I share the concerns of many of the proponents of this bill who draw attention to the all too frequent use of pharmaceuticals for children whose health and behavioral problems may benefit from other forms of intervention. Further, I am a firm supporter of parental notification in all types of medical care provided to children."
—Jeb Bush
Florida Governor

Chicago Tribune
June 5, 2005

"When I listened to constituents on this issue, I heard real fear in their voices . . . that their kids would be labeled"
—Chris Lauzen
State Senator, Illinois

American Journal of Psychiatry
June, 2005

"A survey of recently trained child psychiatrists found that only one in 10 children in their practices does not receive a medication."
—Lawrence Diller, M.D.
Walnut Creek, Calif.

New York Times
June 7, 2005

""Pretty soon, we'll have a syndrome for short, fat Irish guys with a Boston accent, and I'll be mentally ill."
—Paul McHugh
Professor of psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University

Tampa Tribune
June 11, 2005

"Psychiatry has a long history of abject failure. Psychiatric treatments - drugs, electroconvulsive therapy, lobotomies - have harmed millions and robbed them of any hope of a normal life."
—Doyle Mills

New York Times
June 14, 2005

"Psychiatrists have been searching for more than a century for some biological marker for mental disease, to little avail."
—Benedict Carey

British Medical Journal
June 18, 2005

"The antidepressant and 'everybody's depressed' message was spun by a greedy pharmaceutical industry and a myopic medical profession. Stop the widespread use of antidepressants as they are eroding our wellbeing and dismiss life as a simple spark of synaptic electricity."
—Des Spence

General Practitioner

The Associated Press
June 30, 2005

"In our view, mental health can have other dimensions - societal and even spiritual dimensions that the government could not possibly oversee"
—Karen Hayes

Illinois director
Concerned Women for America

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
September 18, 2005

Led by groups like Ablechild.org and EdAction, these opponents want to prohibit schools from having anything to do with students' mental health, saying it is the job of parents to ensure their children's well-being.

Toledo Blade
September 18, 2005

Opponents of school-based mental health programs point to parents who say their children have been misdiagnosed with mental health problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and forced to take medication to attend classes after school officials pressured them to get psychological care.

Indianapolis Star
September 18, 2005

A history of giving the test to some students without parental permission, has put TeenScreen in the hot seat. Friday, a lawsuit outlining these complaints was filed in federal court in the Northern District of Indiana in South Bend by a Northern Indiana couple and their 16-year-old daughter. They charge that the test violates parental and child rights at federal and Indiana levels and invades privacy.

Rutherford Institute
Press Release
September 19, 2005

“Parents need to understand that there are some immediate steps which can be taken to combat the increasing problem of government encroaching into the privacy of the family. First, it’s critical to learn your rights as a parent. Second, contact your local school officials and demand that you be notified immediately if they are planning to conduct mental health screening on your children. Finally, follow the Rhoades’ example and fight back against this encroachment on parental rights.”
—John W. Whitehead

President and Founder of The Rutherford Institute

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
September 25, 2005

“Often without direct parental consent, children undergo controversial, subjective and dubious screening for mental illness. Some of the results have been unwarranted diagnosis, misdiagnosis and the labeling of many children with a mental health disorder.”
—Larry Hanus

Your School and the Law
November 2, 2005

“There is growing opposition to the notion that schools should perform mental health screening. Groups like Concerned Women for America express fears that schools might make screening mandatory and that the pharmaceutical industry is encouraging this practice to open up a larger market for psychotropic medication”
—Marian Sheridan

Fond du Lac (Wis.) School District

New York Times
December 4, 2005

"Other critics worry that TeenScreen will funnel too many kids into treatment and lead to overuse of medication, with possibly dangerous results."
—Paul Raeburn

Star Ledger (New Jersey)
December 13, 2005

"It's sort of astonishing," said Laurie Flynn, executive director of TeenScreen, which stopped disclosing the names of schools using the survey because the districts are peppered with e-mails denouncing it."

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
December 13, 2005

"But in recent months, there are signs that the backlash against TeenScreen may have diminished enthusiasm for mental health screening."
—Matthew Franck

December 15, 2005

“I see an amazing rebellion stirring that cuts across usual political lines. A federal bureaucrat recently called this a "curious coalition" in the media. We are seeing traditionally conservative groups working together with progressive social justice and libertarian groups. The psychiatric drug companies have overextended themselves, and the general public is showing signs of waking up. I just hope they wake up very soon!”
—David Oaks

Director of MindFreedom International

Los Angeles Times
January 1, 2006

“The reason for this difference between psychiatry and other medical specialties has more to do with ideology than with science. A brief peek at both areas makes this point clear. All medicine rests on the premise that disease is a manifestation of diseased tissue. Hepatitis comes down to an inflamed liver, while lung tissue infiltrated with pneumococcus causes pneumonia. Every medical student learns this principle. Where, though, is the diseased tissue in psychopathological conditions?"
—Irwin Savodnik

Psychiatrist and philosopher - teaches at UCLA

National Public Radio
January 9, 2006

“This is a program that has some very vocal critics. They say Teenscreen usurps parental authority, sends kids to therapy who might not need it and they say the program encourages families to put adolescents on antidepressant drugs."
—JoAnne Silberner

The Minnesota Daily
February 2, 2006

“Moreover, the test has a disorder label for the most ordinary of behaviors, having technical terms for simple laziness and arguing with parents, both qualities that most children and young adults have experienced at some point."

The Philadelphia Inquirer
February 9, 2006

"We're going to screen these kids, slap a label on them, and then what?"
—Joseph Rogers

President of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania

The SouthEast Messenger
February 13, 2006

"According to TeenScreen, approximately one-third of students taking the test will score “positive” for mental illness. Up to 84 percent of those “positives” will end up being “false positives.” Doing the math, this could mean that for every 100 students screened, 33 will test as having a mental illness, and 28 of those 33 may discover they were identified by mistake. Talk about depressing! "
—Katelyn Sattler

The Columbus Dispatch
February 20, 2006

"The Dispatch should get behind high-school curriculum reform and good parenting, not TeenScreen. The best screening mechanism is concerned and caring adults who have common sense. Kids are happy when they are doing what they love and when someone loves them enough to pay attention."
—Cathy Sato

Tampa Tribune
March 12, 2006

"Kramer views Shern and other TeenScreen supporters as fronts for drug companies seeking to generate consumers for their products. "They're not the hangmen," he said. "They're the gallows-builders. They lead them [children] to the psych drugs.""

Tampa Tribune
March 19, 2006

"Implementation of screening programs such as TeenScreen has not been proven to prevent suicide, although they potentially bring many more customers to the mental health industry."
—Judy Aron

Director of Research, National Home Education Legal Defense

The Arizona Republic
Mar. 30, 2006

"Mental health lobbyists backed by millions of pharmaceutical dollars have already pushed for government support to adopt their agenda. The federal New Freedom Commission on Mental Health Initiative is an existing plan to have all Americans screened for mental illness."
—Rebecca Noble

Palm Coast Lifestyles Magazine
April 24, 2006

“Unless one has been living in a cave the past 20 years, one knows that youth with psychological / behavioral / learning problems are likely to be referred for psychotropic medications. If this is so, it should, in effect, be considered to be one of the major “purposes” of youth screening. There is, however, ample evidence that medicating youth is too dangerous and ineffective in comparison to the dozens of non-drug alternatives. Encouraging screening as presently constituted simply encourages children to be put on medications-- with no idea what this will do to the suicide rate, and with some indications that it could “increase” suicide.”
—Dr. David Cohen

Professor of Social Work
Florida International University

Copyright © 2002-2005 Data Search Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Data Search Worldwide, PsychSearch.net and the PsychSearch.net logo are owned by Data Search Worldwide, Inc. All other trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.