Hundreds of South Africans protested the psychiatric labeling and drugging of the country’s children at a march held outside the Cape Town International Convention Center. South Africa exceeds America in the rate of children prescribed stimulant drugs that experts say are more potent than cocaine. And despite a 2005 “Drug Alert” from the South Africa Medicines Control Council about SSRI antidepressants putting adolescents at increased risk of suicide, children and adolescents are still prescribed the drugs throughout South Africa.
The march coincided with a World Psychiatric Association Congress being held at the Convention Center and was organized by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health industry watchdog group and Rev. Fred Shaw, Jr., a former Los Angeles Sheriff and past president of the Compton, California branch of the NAACP.
Joining them were the National Khoisan Kingdom and traditional healers, along with concerned doctors, nurses, teachers and parents. The Children’s Rights March culminated in a rally and the opening of CCHR’s world acclaimed Traveling Exhibit: Psychiatry: An Industry of Death at the Castle of Good Hope, once a fortress.
CCHR warns against the WPA’s Congress theme “Psychiatry: Integrative Care for the Community” which it says is disingenuous given the fact that there are now 20 million children and infants worldwide being prescribed and damaged by psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs.
For example, the use of Ritalin and other drugs to treat “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD) was reported in January 2014 as soaring among primary school children in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape province. A local pharmacist reported an increase of nearly 50% in Ritalin prescriptions over the previous year. South African students also snort and swallow Ritalin to get high. They call the drug “smarties,” “rit” or “kiddie cocaine.”
The WPA’s Congress is sponsored by Pfizer and Janssen, pharmaceutical companies that have made billions of rand from marketing psychotropic drugs over which they’ve been sued:
- There are about 13,000 lawsuits currently against Janssen or its parent group, Johnson and Johnson, in the U.S. over its antipsychotic drug Risperdal (risperidone) causing gynecomastia (female breast growth) in boys prescribed it. The companies have paid out over $2.2 billion (Rand 31.5 billion) to settle criminal and civil charges of illegal marketing of Risperdal. In July 2016, a massive $70 million (Rand 1 billion) was also awarded a Tennessee teenager who blamed Risperdal for causing him to grow female breasts.
- In 2009, Pfizer agreed to pay $300 million (Rand 4.3 billion) to resolve allegations that it engaged in illegal marketing of its antipsychotic antipsychotic Geodon (ziprasidone). Pfizer targeted children and adolescents to expand unapproved use of the drug and “maintained on its payroll an army of more than 250 child psychiatrists nationwide” in the U.S.
- South Africa also allows antipsychotics like Risperdal to treat disruptive behavior in children older than 5 with mental retardation. Antipsychotics can also cause weight gain that can lead to life-threatening diabetes.
It was the second trip to South Africa for Rev. Shaw, who helped CCHR present written testimony in 1997 to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Hearing. He warned then of the risks of South Africa following Western psychiatric trends, labeling children with “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD) and prescribing stimulants such as Ritalin or antidepressants for “depression.”
As President of the NAACP, he lobbied the U.S. Congress alongside CCHR International to obtain the Child Medication Safety Act, which now gives parents the right to refuse psychiatric drugs for their children as a provision for attending school. In 2005, The State of the African American Male and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation honored Rev. Shaw as one of its recipients of the MEN WHO CARE AWARD.
CCHR wants to raise awareness and increase the rights of parents to refuse to have their child treated and damaged by these drugs.
We cannot allow this to happen.
CCHR South Africa asks people to take action to help save children from drugging. Find out how you can help.