A recent story from 2018 sent shockwaves through the nation. In July, a federal judge found U.S. government officials at a Texas facility guilty of intentionally forcing migrant children to take psychotropic medications with no parental consent. This is not only a violation of child welfare laws, but a major human rights violation as well.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered federal officials from Manvel, Texas at the Shiloh Treatment Center to immediately cease from giving migrant children psychotropic drugs, a practice that had been going on for some time. They judge also had the children removed from the facility.

Forcibly giving drugs to a minor without parental consent is a massive human rights violation. The Washington Post reports the following about the incident:

  •         “Children testified in court filings that staff with the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (at the  Shiloh Treatment Center) would sometimes not tell them what drugs they were being given or why. They recalled feeling side effects such as nausea, dizziness, depression and weight gain.  Some reported being forcibly injected with drugs, and others said they felt that refusing medications would cause them to be detained longer.”

The Shiloh Treatment Center is a residential facility where dozens of migrant children who have been separated by their parents by the Trump Administration are currently being held. The facility is coming under fire for a number of allegations and findings, all of point to child abuse, physical injury, and even child death at the facility.

Again according to the Washington Post:

  • “Lucas R., a 12-year-old boy from Guatemala who was detained in February, was transferred to Shiloh after he refused to take the antidepressant Zoloft, which was causing him stomach pain, according to a separate court filing.  Shiloh medical staff diagnosed Lucas with major depressive disorder and told him that officials would not release him until Shiloh medical personnel declared him psychologically sound. His depression was in large part triggered by “being kept from family,” who had entered the country before him, according to court documents.”

It is abhorrent that Shiloh Medical Center has been profiting off of prescribing drugs to kids.

Freedom from Forced Drug Use

The Manvel incident is only one example of what could be a much larger issue. The Washington Post reports that local congresspersons have been trying to get it shut down for years. It is disturbing that this place is still open and people are not in jail.

The lawyers prosecuting Shiloh Treatment Center said:

“The importance of oversight when giving psychotropic medications to children is well established.  Without it, the potential for abuse — including using drugs as ‘chemical straight-jackets’ to control children, rather than to treat actual mental health needs — is unacceptably high.”

However we stand on the immigration debate, we must be united in believing that forcibly drugging children is wrong and take action to make sure this practice does not keep occurring anywhere.