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Foster Childs Death Sparks Changes

April 13th, 2010 by flanews

Almost a year after a Florida foster child hanged himself after taking psychotropic drugs state lawmakers are passing legislation to stop overmedication. An investigation found 3-thousand kids in state care were being prescribed mind-altering drugs. As Whitney Ray tells us, some of them were as young as two years old.

On April 16th, 2009, seven year old Gabriel Myers hung himself in the bathroom of his foster home. Gabriel had been sexually abused and lived with four different foster families in less than a years time.

At the time of his death, Gabriel was on a slew of mind-altering medication. Experts believe the drugs clouded his judgment. Gabriels death spawned an investigation finding 13 percent of Floridas foster kids were taking mind-altering drugs, compared to just four percent of their peers.

Mez Pierre was placed on two psychotropic drugs when he entered the foster care system at five years old.

When you are taken away from your family, you are upset and you are sad. Those are regular emotions. If you werent then you would have to question that, but the doctors said I had emotional problems and anger problems, said Mez.

Mez was on the drugs for 13 years. They influenced his judgment and gave him diabetes. Mez testified before a Senate Committee Tuesday asking lawmakers to pass legislation, requiring more oversight and counseling of kids taking mind-altering medication.

What this bill does is says, Were not going to do that anymore. We are going to take a real hard look and we are going to be very, very thoughtful before we give you medication, said bill sponsor Ronda Storms.

In Florida kids as young as two years old have been given psychotropic drugs. Others were taking experimental drugs not yet approved by the FDA. The legislation would ban experimental drugs from being prescribed to foster kids, and all mind-alerting medication for kids younger than 11.

The legislation has one more stop in the Senate, but hasnt been heard yet by the other chamber. Efforts to get the House onboard with the bill are in overdrive, with just two and a half weeks left in the legislative session.

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