NEW PORT RICHEY — When Debbie Visicaro saw the protest signs outside the West Pasco Judicial Center on Thursday, she knew she wanted to become involved.
The signs had messages such as “Hugs Not Psych Drugs,” “Stop Doping Kids” and “Government Out of Our Homes.”
“This is something I’ve been fighting for 11 years,” said Visicaro, a Palm Harbor resident.
Visicaro quickly asked for more information from the group, Parents Against Prescription Abuse, who say they are opposed to what they view as “widespread psychiatric drugging” of children by family and juvenile courts, as well as child protective services.
Too often, they say, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are prescribed Ritalin or other drugs, rather than finding other ways to deal with their situation.
“Our position is the answers to life’s problems are not found in the bottom of prescription-drug bottle,” said Andrew Thibault, a New Port Richey resident and one of the protest organizers.
The situation is not new, one of the protestors, Randall Gillion, said. He said that 25 years ago a preschool teacher suggested medication for his hyperactive son. Gillion said he pulled his son out of school and handled his son’s hyperactivity with a change in diet.
“Parents do have rights,” Gillion said. “You don’t have to give your child medicine they don’t need.”