[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 110 (Monday, July 23, 2012)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1299]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                            HON. DAN BURTON

                               of indiana

                    in the house of representatives

                         Monday, July 23, 2012

  Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to commend the 
Citizen's Commission on Human Rights on the opening of their new 
National Public Affairs Office here in Washington, DC.
  I want to thank my friend Sam Brunelli, the President and CEO of Team 
Builders International, for the role he played in bringing the good 
work of the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights to my attention. Since 
1969, the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights has tirelessly worked to 
educate the public about the dangers of some drugs. As part of this 
effort, CCHR has been at the forefront of the debate over whether 
parents' have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see 
fit; and that includes making decisions about evaluation and treatment 
of mental health conditions.
  As some of my colleagues may recall, back in 2003 a Presidential 
Commission recommended that the government implement mental health 
screening in public school. The Commission contended that early 
detection, assessment, and links with treatment and support programs 
would help prevent mental health problems from worsening. However, 
neither the Commission's report nor any related mental health screening 
proposal under discussion at the time required active parental consent 
before a child was subjected to mental health screening.
  I appreciate the value of having mental health problems diagnosed and 
treated early, but cutting the parents out of the process was deeply 
troubling to me. More often than not, the typical course of action when 
a child is diagnosed with a mental health condition--typically 
Attention Deficit Disorder, ADD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactive 
Disorder, ADHD, is to prescribe a powerful psychotropic drug, such as 
Ritalin. But these drugs have some serious side effects which include 
mania, violence and dependence. In fact, these drugs are so potentially 
dangerous that in 2007, under pressure from members of Congress and 
groups like CCHR, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, was 
finally compelled to require that the makers of all antidepressant 
medications update their black box warning on their products' labeling 
to include warnings about increased risks of suicidal thinking and 
behavior, known as suicidality.
  Yet, inexplicably, not only were parents being cut out of the loop 
with regard to these drugs, parents who were informed, and who wanted 
to say no, were actually being threatened by school districts with 
child abuse charges for not drugging their children.
  As a Christian, parent and grandparent, I have throughout my 
Congressional career staunchly defended the right of parents to direct 
the upbringing of their children as they see fit. I believe this right 
is embedded in the U.S. Constitution, affirmed by Supreme Court case 
precedent, and exemplary of the inalienable rights and freedoms this 
country was founded on. To deny parents the right to know about the 
potential dangers of these drugs and the right to say ``no, this is not 
the right treatment for my child,'' is simply mindboggling. This is the 
same flawed mentality that condones putting toxic substances like 
mercury in medical products like vaccines and dental fillings and then 
not telling people the mercury is in there. Mercury is the most toxic 
substances on earth after radioactive materials. It has no place in any 
medication for children or adults; and I'm proud of the work I've done 
in Congress to get mercury removed from medicine. I'm also proud to 
have worked with CCHR and other like-minded groups to raise awareness 
of the potential dangers of psychotropic drugs, and to fight to put 
parents back in charge of their children's health care decisions 
instead of government bureaucrats.
  Unfortunately, the price of defending our freedoms from the intrusion 
of big government is to be eternally vigilant. The economic and 
political life of America has changed profoundly over the last four 
years, and once again, the government is trying to intrude upon the 
relationship of parent to child.
  In the past, parents were threatened by government officials with 
child abuse charges if they resisted efforts to drug their children 
with ADHD medications. Today, parents are penalized by government for 
sending their children to school with a brownbag lunch that does not 
meet some arbitrary government nutritional guidelines. These may seem 
like widely separate things but they are at the most basic level the 
same; an usurpation by the government of the right of parents to make 
decisions for their children.
  Under the rubric of ``Children's Rights,'' advocate of big government 
are pushing the argument that children should have, and the state 
should recognize, greater autonomy for children from their parents in 
deciding how to live, or that government agencies must have the power 
to step in to protect children from ``bad parents.''
  I believe this concept of ``Children's Rights'' is flawed for two 
reasons. First, parents possess the maturity, experience, and capacity 
for judgment required for making life's difficult decisions that 
children lack. Second, as the Supreme Court said in the case of Parham 
v. JR.19 simply ``because the decision of a parent is not agreeable to 
a child or because it involves risks, does not automatically transfer 
the power to make that decision''--nor in my opinion should it--``from 
the parents to some agency or officer of the state.''
  In his Oval Office farewell address, President Ronald Reagan said two 
things that are particularly relevant to our discussion tonight; he 
said: ``As government expands, liberty contracts;'' and that ``All 
great change in America begins at the dinner table.''
  President Reagan understood that family is the foundation of our 
society; and that parents do have a profound impact on their children. 
If we are to recapture a common denominator of right and wrong in 
America, we must begin in the homes of America with conversations at 
the dinner table between moms and dads and growing children.
  By respecting and defending a parents' fundamental right to teach 
their children that there is acceptable behavior and unacceptable 
behavior, appropriate speech and inappropriate speech we can re-instill 
in our children a moral character of trust, honesty, respect and 
tolerance, qualities that are so necessary to having safe and 
prosperous communities--and which are at the core of CCHR's own 
  Make no mistake, though, stopping the further spread of government 
power in the area of the family and ensuring that parental rights are 
protected with the strength and certainty they deserve will not be a 
quick and easy victory. That is why organizations like CCHR are so 
important. If good people like the men and women who work for CCHR 
refuse to give up the fight, victory is inevitable.
  Again, I want to commend CCHR on the opening of their beautiful new 
facility here in Washington, DC and wish them good fortune in their 
future endeavors.