CCHR Exposes Human Rights Abuse of Florida Children

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a nonprofit mental health watchdog, wants to end abuse of children under the Florida Baker Act.

​Five-year-old Jennifer (not her real name) was cowering under a table in the school office when her mother arrived. The tiny girl was trying to hide from the police who were attempting to handcuff her and take her away.

The police forced “Bradley” off his school bus, handcuffed him and made him sit in the back of a hot police car while his classmates looked on. He was then forced to stay in an institution where his violent roommate punched him in the face and another child spent her time cuttings patterns into her skin with a knife. When he finally returned to school, he was stigmatized by his classmates as the kid who was arrested by the police.

Welcome to Florida circa 2016, where children can be forcibly committed to mental institutions without their parents’ knowledge or consent. The mental health law in Florida, known as the Baker Act, allows children to be involuntarily committed based on the completely arbitrary decision of a school official that they might be a serious threat to themselves or others.

In one recent year, the Palm Beach School District invoked the Baker Act on 256 children—more than one child for every day of the school year.

“We consistently receive calls from parents whose children were unjustly involuntarily committed off school grounds without their permission or knowledge,” says Diane Stein, president of the Florida chapter of Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a nonprofit mental health watchdog.  “Some of these children are as young as 6 or 7 and do not meet the criteria for involuntary commitment. This is a violation of the rights of these children and a gross violation of parental rights.”

CCHR is educating families on their rights under the Baker Act, with tens of thousands of postcards mailed to households in the Tampa Bay area. They also launched a new website, Baker Act Rights, to educate parents on the law. On the website, parents may download a non-consent form, report abuse and sign a petition to stop the involuntary commitment of children in Florida.

“Our goal is to reduce the number of unjust involuntary commitments of children and change the law so that parental rights are restored and the Baker Act is no longer used as a disciplinary tool in our school systems,” said Stein.

Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a nonprofit charitable mental health watchdog established by the Church of Scientology and professor of psychiatry Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, and dedicated to eradicating psychiatric abuses and ensuring patient protection.

Source: CCHR Int