A friend sent me an article today, one posted in the Huffington Post by a mother who has a child that is dangerous to himself and others. Entitled “I Am Adam Lana’s Mother” it is a firsthand account of what it is like to try raise a child who is dangerous.
Some found it heartbreaking to read.
I found it scary.
It gives a little window into the life of a mother who has a child, just 13 years old, who has threatened her with a knife, told her he was planning to kill her, has threatened to kill himself by jumping out of a car, etc., etc.
He has to be physically restrained by a woman who won’t be able to do so much longer. His siblings have to have a plan to run and lock themselves in the car when he acts up. Yet there is little help for him or the family. On one hand, he evidently is brilliant. I have read about how many schizophrenics have a very high IQ (On a side note, I remember reading years ago that the more intelligent a dog breed was, the more likely it was to bite people… but I digress). Watching the interview video at the bottom of the article, it appears she finally got some help through a specialized boarding school. Her plea, however, was for help because families need it and the kids need it and society loses out because the kids are so intelligent they have a lot to offer we miss out on.
How about safety?
This is very un-PC, but there used to be state psychiatric hospitals where dangerous people were locked up. I think we need to revisit that idea. Typically those people there were abandoned and forgotten and they were horrid places. ”Asylums”, “mental hospitals”, etc. whose very names bring such a stigma that the very idea seems to be off the table. But why? Can’t we, as a society, house mentally and emotionally disturbed people in a hospital setting without abusing them? We don’t have to do it the same way, do we? We improved conditions in prisons, schools, nursing homes, etc. from the 50s and 60s… can’t we make a psychiatric hospital a true hospital and not just a warehouse for the disturbed people we drug into a stupor? Must we wait until an innocent person has paid the price and they go to jail? 56% of jailed inmates have a mental or emotional issue that hasn’t been dealt with. That is five times higher than the average. Society will pay, one way or the other, to house these people. Why are we waiting until some damage has been done rather than moving them into a setting earlier?
I understand a lot of parents want to do everything they can to help their kids, including risking their own safety. The author of the article had younger kids however, and it is unconscionable to risk their lives as well. The only way she could have had him committed was to wave parental rights… why? Making him a ward of the state then the taxpayers will give him the hospital setting he evidently needs, yet if she is penalized if she did not want to wash her hands of him. Ridiculous.
The event in Connecticut on Friday has brought about numerous discussions (gun control, mental illness) but it appears the President and too much of the public wants to focus on guns and believes a simple answer will solve this very complicated problem. Obama said that now is not a time for a discussion but for action… I think we too often go off half cocked in an emotional rush to do something, anything, and should stay on point and do the right thing instead of just being quick to act. Personally, I don’t think it will help at all to change gun laws; I’ll talk about that in another post. I think this country needs to immediately rethink how it treats mental illness and needs to stop looking away uncomfortably.
It’s a problem that needs to be tackled head on, soon, because there are other kids out there right now that will explode and other children out there that will pay the price if we do not.