Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Munchausen syndrome by proxy - nightmare for children

Recently Danish teachers have been under pressure by parents because they demand special care for their child among 25 other students.

They bring in lawyers to school meetings and expect the teacher to be able to teach reading and math so the child is Niels Bohr within months.

Also among 25 percent of the public schools budget is utilized to special education, which is all time high.

Never has so many children been diagnosed with all kind of mental illnesses.

Something is wrong. Why does the society not allow a child to be a quiet child who is doing the work and then choosing to go home instead of hanging out with friends?

Why do we have a society where everyone should be forced to socialize instead of reading books, concentrate on arts at home and just enjoy pets and family at home?

Every parent does worry about their child. They do want their child to outlive the child’s potential. Of course they ask for advice by professionals, but are they given the right advices?

In some countries the parents ask private educational consultants. In other countries they ask social workers and psychologists paid by the schools. Can they expect to receive a real answer which serves the child best or will they receive an answer which would suit the system or whatever party who is paying most of the salary for the person they ask?

In the United States parents often learn the hard way that whatever they pay the educational consultant the real salary is paid by schools and programs which the educational consultants refer the children to. There are no ways they can ensure if the recommendation of a specific solution will be in the best interest of their child.

In systems where the payment is done over the taxes there are no insurance also. There are no way the parents can check if the caseworker is referring their child to a specific school due to the political interest of the city council, the case worker has a colleague which is corrupt or the psychologists is basing the recommendation on her possible other job as psychologists for the school or group home, which is recommended.

Parents are often confused by all those who want allot of things for their children and mixed with possible ambitions they have, some of them can get sick. In extreme cases the parents can be suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

One such case is the case of 13 year old Ben Barnhard who was gunned down by his own mother.

From the very start of his life, his mother had ambitions on behalf of him. Ambitions he might had achieved if she hadn't been hammering on the doors of various experts all his life.

A divorce court filing lists 18 specialists involved in Ben's care, and Jensvold's own suicide note hints at some of the child's difficulties: "writing problems, migraines, hearing things" - and "a bit paranoid."

He was overweight. It is well-known that a lot of medication causes weight gain. Instead of implementing a diet and start exercising with her child the mother instead send him to a special boarding school - Wellspring Academies - which treat such things for the sum of $50,000.

It is not known who the mother consulted. Did some of them even suggest that the mother sought treatment herself instead? She had a history of lawsuits even before she got her child which had no basis.

Because the mother wasn't examined before this tragedy happened it is not possible for me to claim that she suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy or her constant search for treatment options was pushed by the advices she got.

We must urge the parents to seek second opinions when it comes to the recommendations they receive from case workers and educational consultants.

Based on the fact that residential treatment includes increased risk of sexual molestation, crime and increased difficulties becoming integrated with the normal life outside, this option should always be the very last used.

As relatives we must also enforce ourselves on family members which tend to isolate themselves with their children. Check in on them in a soft way where you don't impose your ideas of how they should live their lives but state that you are ready to listen.

Maybe a combination of such second guessing of external advices and tighter bonds in the family could have saved the life of 13 year old Ben Barnhard. It is not to know but can we let the next child slip too? Should we at least not make the try?

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