Sunday, August 19, 2012

Child Protection and Psychiatric Care

Again there is another inquiry into Child Protection. The Queensland Government has commenced the third Child Safety Inquiry in 14 years. As is often the case with every effort to discuss the poor state of the Child Protection Industry we hear of the abuse the state has inflicted on innocence.

In an article in the Brisbane Times we are told of a young person who is placed in an adult psychiatric institution where she suffered every possible form of abuse. It horrifies me the power the medical profession wields in these matters and how when we talk about child protection we rarely talk about the abuse inflicted by the Psychiatric profession.

As responsible as Social Workers may be for poor practice in this area I know that the Psychiatric profession has responsibility for the most vulnerable in our community. Any abuse conducted under their watch is dismissed as necessary because of “uncontrollable and unregulated patient behaviour”.

In the same way that the Government protects it’s workers from criticism so does the medical profession protect its practices. The only difference is that other health professions may feel guilty or, at least, look to vary their practice, with the medical profession this is most unlikely. What change have we seen regarding the treatment of mental wellbeing in recent times? None that I have noticed. We have a wider array of diagnosable illnesses than ever before, all treatable by the use of medication. Who holds them to account for the use of medicating our young and for the way these young people are treated behind the closed doors of the hospital.

I was reminded of a young person I was working with, over ten years ago, who told me the that she was restrained and taken to the local children’s hospital and was placed in the Psych word. She was confused, distressed and with no support from friends or family. In this distressed state she was seen to be uncontrollable so she was set upon by four orderlies who threw her on the bed, pulled down her pants, and injected her in the backside. She talked about the humiliation she felt, an emotion which was still present. Tell me how this sort of treatment isn’t Child Abuse. If a parent treated a child in this manner in order to give them their medication they would be charged with assault and probably have the child taken from them. In the confines of a medical environment almost anything goes.

In the Brisbane Times article there were many professionals present but NO ONE chose to make a stand for the children being abused. No one saw that there may be a different and more effective way to work with my client either. As this blog is written, and as you are reading this, take a moment for to think about those lost and vulnerable people who are at this moment being abused because they are unable to cope with the stressors their lives have provided. Some of these abuses will be conducted by the very professions which are relegated to a level of authority which is never questioned and which conducts itself like a secret society, above the purview, of us mere mortals. 

The medication of children as young as six months with Ritalin, is equally abusive but I have yet to hear of a medical practitioner being charged with unprofessional conduct or abuse.

We need to offer a voice for all those whom we work with. To allow this institutionalised abuse to continue places us along side the abuser. We become as one and our silence allows it to continue.

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