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Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
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I guess when I am thinking of children, I am referring to older kids/teens. I am not advocating that a young child (say, of elementary age) go to detention or jail. In my job I have found that the legal system fails the parents more than it fails the kids.  I know parents who have found themselves and their families in danger, called the police, and get little to no intervention.  I have seen kids who believe the rules don't apply to them. I do believe that mentally ill children and adolescents deserve help, love and compassion. I did not mean to imply that they don't.  But the mother in this article is dealing with something more serious than an "acting out" child.

I think the "third option" is residential. But sometimes even that is not secure enough for some of these children.  And unless you have government insurance (medicaid), most parents cannot afford to put their children in one. Private insurance doesn't pay for this. It can take a long time to get your child on medicaid if your family makes more than the 100-200 % poverty rule.

I have seen adolescents who literally have no conscience. These kids are scary. They are machines. Were they born this way? Were they created? Was it a mix of biology and environment? All of the above could be true.  And what becomes the least restrictive environment for them? How many people do they need to harm, bully, threaten for society to know that detention may actually be the most protective place for them? 

I know that in Virgnina, the detention centers offer school, medications, therapy/counseling, and recreation.  Are they ideal? Have bed things happened in such places. Yes. These centers have a long way to go in the area of improvement.  I know kids have been neglected and died in such facilities. But this is where tax dollars for mental health improvement could go a long way.

Now of course, there are some other options for families.  There is in-home therapy. But you need medicaid unless you have money to private pay several hours a day of therapy, several days a week.  These are more like mentoring services, and are more appropriate for preventative care.  Most of these types of workers cannot handle a truly anti-social type of personality, or rather, conduct disorder as it is more appropriately called in a person under 18. 

Our healthcare reform is focusing a lot of attention on preventative care for medical illnesses, women's reproductive decisions and deciding how abortion could be funded.  How about focusing a little more attention on preventing mental health crisis? 

I think I used the word "guilty" because many times parents will get upset with me for suggesting that they press charges. But I do feel that there should be consequences for actions.  Not saying that one shouldn't have a fair chance first.  But parents and authorities need to draw the line somewhere.  If not, we will have more tragedies like the one we had last week.

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