Skip to comments.Subjecting Teen to Mental Health Test Without Parental Consent
Posted on 08/11/2008 3:55:09 PM PDT by cornelis
Teen Screen Lawsuit Advances: Federal Court Affirms Familys Right to Sue School for Subjecting Teen to Mental Health Test Without Parental Consent
SOUTH BEND, Ind.A federal court has given the green light to a civil rights lawsuit filed by Rutherford Institute attorneys in defense of a 15-year-old Indiana student who was subjected by school officials to a controversial mental health examination without the knowledge or consent of her parents. In ruling that the lawsuit filed on behalf of Chelsea Rhoades and her parents, Teresa and Michael, may proceed to trial, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana upheld the claims that the local school district deprived the Rhoades family of their federal constitutional rights to family integrity and privacy when it subjected Chelsea to the TeenScreen examination.
A copy of the lawsuit is available here.
This ruling rightly recognizes that parents have an intrinsic right to control their childrens education, as well as safeguard their mental and physical well-being, stated John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.
On December 7, 2004, Chelsea Rhoades, a student at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind., was subjected to a mental health examination known as TeenScreen by personnel with the Madison Center for Children, a local mental health center. The mental health exam consisted of questions seeking only a yes or no answer, with no opportunity to explain or offer an alternative response. Only students with an opt-out slip were excused from taking the exam. All other students were divided into groups of 10-15, herded into classrooms and placed in front of computers.
After completing the examination and being escorted into a private hallway by an employee of Madison Center, Chelsea was informed that, based on her responses that she liked to clean and didnt like to party very much, she suffered from at least two mental health problems, obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. Chelsea was also told that if her condition worsened, her mother should take her to the Madison Center for treatment. According to Chelsea, a majority of the students who were subjected to the TeenScreen exam were also told they were suffering from some sort of mental or social disorder. Chelseas parents were not informed about the mental health screening exam until after it had taken place, when Chelsea spoke to them about her so-called diagnosis.
In September 2005, Rutherford Institute attorneys filed suit in federal district court on behalf of the Rhoades family, charging that school officials violated Chelseas constitutional right to be free from unnecessary intrusions by the state. In rejecting the school districts attempt to have the case dismissed, the court also ruled that the school is liable for the false diagnosis of mental illness that was given to Chelsea.
Mental health screening exams like TeenScreen have increasingly been adopted by schools in 43 states, reportedly as part of an effort to identify students with mental health problems or at-risk tendencies for suicide that cannot be seen outwardly. However, while federal and state law generally requires that parents grant written consent in order for their children to take mental health screening exams, some schools had relied on passive consent forms in order to administer the exams. Passive consent requires parents to return a form only if they do not want their child to participate in the screening. However, according to the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, as well as Indiana state law, schools are required to obtain written parental consent before engaging in such programs as mental health screening.
I vehemently disagree with the testing, with or without consent, but what seems to me even worse is discussing the “diagnosis” with the minor without having her parents present or notified. Kids are insecure enough as it is without having some authority figure imply they are mentally ill also.
Mental health screening for teens in 43 states!!!
To serve and protect!
“social anxiety disorder” ~ Hmmmm?
The worst part about these tests, in my opinion, is that they’re guaranteed to find a problem with every child. Don’t like to party, you have a social anxiety issue. Like to party, you have tendancies toward addiction and narcissism. Like to clean, you have ocd. Don’t like to clean, it must be because you’re depressed.
TeenScreen is used in 43 states in public schools, private schools, and in a huge amount of colleges.
All that being said, I'd be madder than a wet hen if this had happened (or does happen) to my children. This test is apparently VERY popular at major universities where parental consent is not an issue
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Absolutely true. And absolutely devastating if that so-called diagnosis gets into the official academic file for that student. I know a lot of people think that a diagnoses of some kind of handicap helps them make special demands for accommodating such as longer testing times but I have real concerns that it will come back to haunt the kids in later life, as in the Thomas Eagleton affair.
Now I have a kid who loves to clean and loves to party. She’s the most outgoing, inclusive, fun kid (okay she’s 21 now) around but her diagnosis probably is OCD and “anti-social anxiety disorder” or something. We all have neuroses, it’s what makes us unique. What would they make of my compulsion to count things, or my tendency to stop using something before I run out—so I won’t run out? Obviously I would be labeled dangerous and certifiably mentally ill although I am a mid-50-ish attorney, church leader, and newspaper columnist, not to mention happily married for 23 years and mom to two gorgeous, independent daughters with a son waiting for me in heaven.
Yeah..she didn’t like partying.
p.s. In most quizes I rate as a 10 in conservatism. I rated as a 6 in this one. ;)
Mental health issues, another reason to worry about your rkba, too. You said the wrong thing in a high school psychological dragnet, no guns for you!
15 years ago the grammar school speech therapist thought my son pronounced “milk” incorrectly and needed speech lessons. I was advised that the State of New York required that any child identified in need of speech therapy, had to undergo a series of psychological tests.
I told her to pound sand.
sounds like you exhibit symptoms of explosive pessimism, that will be $50.
Any chance that there’s a copy of this “exam” floating around? It would be nice for parents and others to see just what tests and such people are being subject to.
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