Restore Parental Rights: Protect Children from Unjust Involuntary Psychiatric Examination!

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FLORIDA RESIDENTS ONLY PLEASE!

During 2017-2018 there were 36,078 involuntary psychiatric examinations initiated, called a Baker Act, involving children - some as young as two years of age. In most cases the parent has no idea this has happened until after their child has been taken into custody and transported to a psychiatric facility where the child can then be held for up to 72 hours. 

It is the opinion of CCHR that before an involuntary psychiatric examination is initiated on a minor that the individuals involved should first ensure that a child is not exhibiting “anti-social behavior” which is specifically excluded from the definition of mental illness in Florida. Children have tantrums and teenagers have dramatic moments – all of which can be misinterpreted as signs of mental illness when in fact they are normal childhood behaviors.

If the personnel authorized to initiate a Baker Act, truly believe that the behavior of a child is a result of mental illness then in our opinion, and according to the criteria for initiation, the parent or legal guardian should be contacted for the purpose of obtaining consent for a voluntary examination. This opinion is based on the existing law. To learn more click here: “Involuntary Examination of Minors”

This is NOT being done. Instead involuntary examinations are being initiated on children without parental knowledge. The parent finds out AFTER their child has been Baker Acted.

This violation of human rights is happening to children across the state. A BuzzFeed investigative news report titled “HOW A 6-YEAR-OLD GOT LOCKED ON A PSYCH WARD” illustrates the abusive use of the Baker Act and the undermining of parental rights in Florida.

Based on the above this petition is demanding that:

1) Parents or legal guardians are notified immediately before the initiation of an involuntary psychiatric examination. No involuntary examination may be initiated without the parent first being given the right to refuse voluntary treatment as laid out in Florida Statute 394.463 Involuntary examination, which states “The person has refused voluntary examination after conscientious explanation and disclosure of the purpose of the examination.” For a minor the person who may consent for treatment of any kind is a parent or legal guardian.

2) Parents or legal guardians are told to come to their child's school immediately and given information on the situation so that they can decide the best solution.

3) Parents or legal guardians are to be given the option to take full responsibility for their child and work with the school and any other individuals involved including the police to calm the situation down as laid out in Florida Statute 394.463 Involuntary examination, which states “and it is not apparent that such harm may be avoided through the help of willing family members or friends or the provision of other services.”

4) That the existing laws governing the involuntary psychiatric examination of children be amended to restore parental rights by clearly stating the exact procedure that must be followed for a minor and by enacting penalties for failure to properly execute this law.