- Why School-age Children are Over-medicated
- Behaviors that Result in Overmedication in Children
- Learning Difficulties that result in Overmedication
- Effects of Overmedication in School-age Children
- Remedy for Overmedication in School-age Children
- Summary of Key Points
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School-age children are at the risk of being given medication beyond the recommended doses. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (2015), the number of school-age children who are given antipsychotics has doubled over the last three years. In fact, it is estimated that more than 25% of teens are taking antipsychotics as prescribed by their health pharmacists.
This could lead to several severe conditions for children, and more specifically the school-age children. The aim of this paper is to identify the reasons for over-medication in school-age children with behavioural and learning issues difficulties.
Why School-age Children are Over-medicated
According to Smith (2012), parents, schools, and health practitioners are to blame for the rise of over-medication in school-age children. More often than not, parents do not have the time to look after their children. They are too busy with their jobs, leaving little time for their children. In the event that their children develop signs of ill health, they opt for medications without researching enough or seeking a doctor’s advice (Smith, 2012).
In schools, children are under the pressure to perform better, where failure to perform results in school administrators recommending the student for further education. As a consequence, the children end up consuming more antipsychotics than they can handle. Health professionals have contributed to the increase in the number of medicines that the school-age children use.
Most health practitioners who treat children do not opt for psychological therapy. Rather, they opt for antipsychotics in treating children who are suspected to have mental disorders.
Behaviors that Result in Overmedication in Children
Some behaviors result in overmedication in school-age children. One such behavior is the persistent refusal of the child to obey the superiors. When children are growing up, they sometimes develop bad behavior of failing to heed what their parents and other superiors are advising them to do, especially the boys who at some point may disobey their parents due to peer pressure.
The result is that most parents prefer to take such children to a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is required to conduct reconstructive therapy to the child. However, some fail to do the therapy and end up giving the child antipsychotics (Cortiella & Horowiz, 2014). In schools, some children may develop the habit of absenteeism without good reasons.
Other children may lack compassion for their fellow children; they fail to show kindness and result in being cruel to other children. According to Cortiella and Horowiz (2014), such children may use weapons to fight others. In other words, they become violent and difficult to handle. This may result in the parents or the administration of the school recommending that child for further therapy by a psychiatrist.
If the psychiatrist is busy and does not wish to spend a lot of time in conducting therapy with the child, then he may end up giving the child more antipsychotics. Other behaviors that often result in the child being taken to a psychiatrist include being cruel to animals, stealing, participating in vandalism acts, attempting suicide, and lying to others frequently, among others.
These behaviors are unacceptable to the society; therefore, such a child is recommended to undergo behavioral therapy. Unfortunately, some psychiatrists are too busy to conduct the therapy and end up giving more antipsychotics (Cortiella & Horowiz, 2014).
Learning Difficulties that result in Overmedication
According to Novotney (2012), inattention is the primary learning difficult that school-age children may be prompted to seek behavioral therapy. Some children find it hard to concentrate in class. They have problems following instructions; therefore, they move from one assignment to another without completing any of the assignment successfully.
Other children have the problem of over-activity. It means that they rarely take a break in carrying out their activities. They can run from one place to another, like from one corner of the classroom to another, without paying attention to the important activities that their instructors are advising them to follow. Consequently, they are mistaken as having a mental problem and may end up being given antipsychotics (Novotney, 2012).
The way education is delivered in schools can be difficult for some children. For instance, most schools do not give room for kinetic learners, and all kids are supposed to sit at the desks and learn the same way. If they cannot be still, then they are often considered to have a behavioral problem. The children may be referred for medication so that they can “behave well”.
There are specific learning difficulties that school-age children may be suffering from. These conditions include dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia (Novotney, 2012). In dyslexia, a child fails to comprehend most of the learning activities in class. Such a child may find it difficult to process some sounds that are related to particular words. Word decoding may also become difficult for such a child.
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A child who is suffering from dyscalculia normally has problems in solving math-related questions (Novotney, 2012). Such a child may not be able to carry out simple mathematics, measurements, and time telling. A child suffering from dyscalculia will more often than not score less than average in mathematics. Dysgraphia is the term used to refer to the students who have difficulties in writing.
Such children may develop poor handwritings that are associated with either dyslexia or dysgraphia (Novotney, 2012). They may have difficulties in organizing their thoughts to produce an average piece of writing. Also, such children will get tired quickly when participating in a writing activity.
All the above types of students will, undoubtedly, end up in a health facility seeking therapy that will help them correct their behavior (Novotney, 2012). However, the children may end up receiving antipsychotics than the therapies that they require.
Effects of Overmedication in School-age Children
The effects of overmedication of children are not widely researched, as explained by Insel (2014). It implies that only limited information is available on what overmedication can cause to a child. However, it is obvious that frequent use of drugs results in drug resistance (Insel, 2014). In other words, consistent use of medicines leads to a situation whereby the person will not respond to the medications in the future.
Thus, it becomes extremely difficult to treat such a person in case they become sick. The ability to fight diseases decreases with an increase in overmedication. The more an individual consumes cosmetic medicines, the weaker they become in their capacity to fight diseases. Another consequence that is associated with overmedication is the stress and stigma of being seen as different from others (Insel, 2014).
A normal and healthy child does not need to carry medicines all the time. Therefore, a child who is always under medication may be viewed by others as being different, which may result in the child becoming stigmatized. According to Park (2011), a stigmatized child may develop low self-esteem.
The child may find it difficult to cope with others in public. Besides, such a child may end up lacking the necessary courage to make presentations in front of the class. The costs that are associated with overmedicating a child are too high. Parents that do not have access to medical insurance might, therefore, find it difficult to buy all the prescribed drugs.
Remedy for Overmedication in School-age Children
According to Cortiella and Horowitz (2014), some of the abnormal behaviors that children exhibit are associated with the lack of proper attention from their parents. Therefore, it is wise for parents to pay close attention to their children while at home. A healthy parent-child relationship can reduce the incidences where the parent opts for behavioral therapy only for the child to be given antipsychotics.
Besides, some of the antisocial behaviors that are observed in children are a result of poor nutrition, as explained by Smith (2012). The lack of certain essential nutrients results in the poor growth of the children. Parents should ensure that they give their children foods that are balanced nutritionally to improve the cognitive and behavioral development of the child.
At school, children should not be judged by their performance in class. Rather, they should be assessed through a combination of activities, including sports and art (Cortiella & Horowiz, 2014). Resultantly, children who are not attentive in class will be spared the idea of having to undergo therapies that might result in the child being advised to take antipsychotics.
Psychiatrists should also practice professionalism in their work. They should take their time and examine the needs of the child and administer therapy as necessary (Cortiella & Horowitz, 2014). Resultantly, many school-age children will be saved the agony of overmedication.
Many parents are too busy with their jobs that they forget to take care of their children. At school, children are under the pressure of performing well. If they do not, then they are mistaken to be suffering from mental problems. Psychiatrists are often too busy to conduct the necessary therapies.
Resultantly, many students end up becoming overmedicated by taking more antipsychotics. Some of the behavioral signs that some children portray include persistent absenteeism and persistent failure to obey parents, among others. The learning difficulties that may prompt overmedication in children include dyslexia and dyscalculia.
Improving nutrition and having enough time with children are things that parents can do to prevent children from developing mental problems. Psychiatrists should conduct thorough investigations and administer the appropriate therapies, instead of blindly opting for drugs to treat mental and behavioral problems.
Summary of Key Points
There are numerous reasons why school-age children are overmedicated. First, the parents are usually too busy to take care of their children’s needs. Non-performing and kinetic learners are required to take antipsychotic drugs, as they are seen to be having mental problems. Psychiatrists find it a bother to conduct therapies and, therefore, resort to prescribing additional medications that the child does not require.
Schools’ administrators should focus on the overall ability of the child, including sports and artwork. Behaviors that result in a child being given antipsychotic drugs include failure to obey the parents, being extremely violent, getting involved in vandalism, as well as the lack of compassion for others. Unruly behaviors lead parents to consult psychiatrist interventions for their children, who end up being given antipsychotics instead of providing behavioral therapy.
Some of the learning difficulties that may prompt children to be given additional antipsychotic drugs include dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. Such students find it difficult to be attentive in class. Children who are overmedicated may find it difficult to fight diseases when they fall sick. The condition is attributed to the fact that their disease fighting mechanisms become weak because of the consistent use of drugs.
Among the remedies for reducing overmedication in children include parents having enough time to attend to their children. This can make it easier for parents to identify the various challenges that children go through. Besides, psychiatrists should carry out thorough investigations and administer therapies that are necessary. Most cases that are taken to psychiatrists for intervention require behavioral therapy. Therefore, therapists should only resort to medication as the last option to avoid overmedication in children.
Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. (2015). New data: Medication and behavior treatment. Web.
Cortiella, C. & Horowitz, S. H. (2014). The state of learning disabilities: facts, trends and emerging issues. New York, NY: National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Insel, T. (2014). Director’s blog: Are children overmedicated? New York, NY: The National Institute of Mental Health.
Novotney, A. (2012). More research needed on the effects medications have on children. American Psychological Association, 43(6), 41-44.
Park, M. (2011, May 24). Little people, lots of pills: Experts debate medicating kids. CNN. Web.
Smith, B. L. (2012). Inappropriate prescription. American Psychological Association, 43(6), 36-38.