TAMPA, FL: A chilling response came from a Florida state agency last week as it seems the agency is trying to muzzle a parent for speaking out against the state for giving her children dangerous psychiatric medications without her informed consent, as required by the law.
In a series of investigative reports, Tampa Bay’s 10 News explained how a domestic violence incident resulted in the two children of Karen Shaw being removed from their home by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). While in DCF custody, the children received psychotropic drugs without her knowledge.
Within days of airing the story, the mother received notification DCF was moving to terminate her parental rights. Court documents revealed that among the reasons the state is seeking this action is because the mother participated in a 10 News story.
Karen Shaw told 10 News: “I was panicked as I went into the courtroom today because the thought of losing my children…I can’t even describe that. But the issue of psychotropic medication will not keep me from speaking out in court.”
Click here to visit 10 News Tampa Bay’s News Leader for the rest of the story.
The dozens of comments on this story have one thing in common, they indicate support and appreciation of 10 News and the investigative efforts of Senior Reporter Mike Deeson.
Among the comments a viewer wrote: “DCF is just doing a chemical version of Willowbrook abuse on these kids. Muzzled? No. on the contrary, we should be screaming to high heaven about what is going on, til it gets global attention.”
I was happy to see another viewer brought up Willowbrook and the need for child advocates to stand together on this matter.
It was a series of articles in local newspapers, and investigations by Geraldo Rivera, uncovering a host of deplorable conditions that resulted in national attention, a class-action lawsuit and the closing of Willowbrook.
In watching the coverage of Karen Shaw’s situation, I was impressed with how 10 News Reporter Mike Deeson cut right to the chase and asked a DCF representative point-blank, “Is this an agency of retribution, or of child welfare?”
The 10 News investigations are supporting the efforts of child advocates across the state of Florida as this type of raw investigative journalism is what gives a voice to those who are otherwise stifled and mistreated.
Foster care advocacy was also the focus of national media attention a few months ago. Diane Sawyer and ABC News were given exclusive access to the GAO report, which capped off a nationwide yearlong investigation by ABC News on the overuse of the most powerful mind-altering drugs on many of the country’s nearly 425,000 foster children.
Strong investigative reporting is one of the key components in fighting the injustices that take place in society.
Michael Copps, a member of the Federal Communications Commission stated last October that, “Investigative journalism is on life support, real news is increasingly replaced with fluff and democracy is suffering because of it.”
Copps, one of five FCC commissioners, said thorough reporting has been sacrificed as news organizations struggle to to deliver greater returns to shareholders, commenting that “every day, hundreds of reports and stories that Americans should be reading go unreported.”
We need to start questioning the effectiveness of advocacy without participation of ethical investigative journalists like 10 News Senior Reporter Mike Deeson.
Members of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry are available as media commentators on mental health related issues.
Our varied membership includes psychiatrists, psychologists, professional clinical counselors, academic researchers, educators, lawyers, psychiatric survivors, concerned family members, other mental health professionals, and advocates from around the world. ISEPP is an independent organization which currently takes no monies from external sources and is run completely by volunteer members.
Click here for ISEPP contact information.