Does it matter how we “fix” kids, as long as they get “fixed” ?

Readers, here is an article written by a 19-year-old who describes his feelings about 2 different ways of bringing control and a sense of respect into one that was previously “out of control”- Read this carefully and then I will follow with my feelings, having done both with the same success rate, but with a very different looking-glass I see! Please read.

toughlove There is an age-old debate when it comes to schooling and parenting. Should we discipline children by enforcing punishment and obedience, or raise them through respect and understanding? I am about to share how one principal walks the first path, while another embraced the second. Our first principal is Dave Derpak. He took over Killarney Secondary School in Vancouver, Canada, in the summer of 2010. Vandalism, false fire alarms, locker break-ins and drug deals were common before his arrival. However, as of 2013, suspensions and absenteeism are down 30 percent, late arrivals dropped by 39 percent, the graffiti is gone and the prank fire alarms have all but stopped. Many are crediting Derpak for the betterment of the school, but how did he accomplish such a feat? In an article on The Globe and, Derpak explained:

The students have to feel like you’re always watching. You have to play on the kids’ emotions. If you bring order to a place of chaos, my theory is, the rest will follow.”

 Each day, Derpak and his two vice-principals scoured the hallways, keeping in touch via walkie-talkies and developing code names for different parts of the school. Surveillance cameras were installed throughout the school. Derpak gained the support of students by buying sweatshirts for the girls’ hockey team and offering $500 to anybody who pointed out rule-breakers. One local school-board member commented, “He knows those kids. He knows their stories. He knows what they’re doing this weekend.”

Whether or not you agree with Derpak’s methods, let us look at our second principal, Jim Sporleder. His school, Lincoln High, was much like Killarney Secondary. In fact, one can argue it was worse. While Killarney is the largest secondary school in Vancouver, Lincoln High School is an alternative school where many of the students have come from places where they had been expelled. Gangs controlled the building, and many of the students have suffered from emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Despite these odds, Sporleder and his staff achieved an 85% drop in suspension rates, while cutting expulsions and written referrals by half. What may come as a surprise to most, is that Sporleder did not need cameras, bribery, sedatives, policemen, or SWAT team tactics. No, his methods are quite the opposite. Sporleder’s approach can be gauged through the following scenario. A student dropped the F-bomb towards a teacher and was sent to Sporleder for discipline. The kid had his defences ready for the usual, “How could you do that? What’s wrong with you?” and the boot out of school. Instead, what the teen received was kindness. “Wow. Are you OK? What’s going on? This doesn’t sound like you,” Jim Sporleder said. The teen’s calloused demeanour dropped, where he admitted his aggression stemmed from his alcoholic father’s broken promises. After he got a minor consequen(or punishment, depending on how you define the two words) befitting his menial ‘crime,’ the student apologized to his teacher on his own, without prompting from Sporleder. How often does a troubled student apologize without being forced to, and actually mean it? I believe it’s when they are helped to understand where their ce hostility stems from. “It sounds simple,” says Sporleder about his approach. “Just by asking kids what’s going on with them, they just started talking.” In the end, both principals achieved their goals. Derpak got his quiet school through fear and punishment, while Jim Sporleder got there with patience and communication. Many say that it doesn’t matter how an authority figure attains his or her goals, so long as the ends justify the means. In my opinion, the disparity between Dave Derpak and Jim Sporleder makes all the difference. One school has a totalitarian atmosphere where students feel like they’re potential criminals, while the other gives youth the trusting relationships that many of them never had. If all adults treated kids the way Sporleder does, perhaps many children wouldn’t rebel, because they would have nothing to rebel against. Unfortunately, that is not the way of our world. The words below come from one of Dave Derpak’s supporters, and they echo the sentiments held by most citizens:

“Whatever pyschobabbler invented the terms ‘self-esteem’, ‘student lead parent interviews’, ‘fuzzy math’, touchy-feely, rubrics not grades et al wouldn’t last a day in this school. Tough love does tame a blackboard jungle. It is so inspiring to see a principal willing to throw out all of the worst education fads. They must come to the realization that our young people should be disciplined in just this manner. Tough but fair. Its the only way to get a handle on the problems that were plaguing the school. Kudos to all principals who are enlightened enough to set aside all the (teacher union and school board) claptrap so these kids will stand a solid chance of landing a good education. Then they can move on to greater and better things in their lives.”

At the risk of sounding like a “pyschobabbler,” I disagree completely. Zero-tolerance is the opposite of fairness and no study has shown that a “might makes right” approach improves education. “Tough love” is for those who choose punishment over discipline because they’re too lazy or ignorant to explain anything. If all schools were run on empathy, kids might actually want to attend classes. Until then, I wish for schools worldwide to practice Sporleder’s approach, if only for a month. Luke Dang, 19, was expelled from school when he was 14. He now spends his time writing about youth rights, teenage depression, and compulsory schooling. He works at

So there it is, straight from the mouth of a 19-year-old.

The two sides of how two men run their shows when it comes to alternative schooling. First off  does it even matter what a teenager thinks? I think it not only matters, but is really the answer we all have been searching for, if I am correct. We want to unveil the secrets of how these kids think, yet they are typically the last ones we consult! Ok now on to the article at hand.

I like to keep my responses or writings in general on point and stay on track , and I will attempt to do so here. First off I think that results in these 2 scenarios are useless. If we are looking to find the man who can get the human to perform the way we want for the duration of high school, then in my opinion it is a pointless goal. I always went into every situation as if I was going to change a life. I always did. I am not proud of this fact though because in my early years I was the potter and kids were my clay. I got them molded into my way of looking , acting, talking, or whatever the goal was and many times under my conditions, under my guidelines and with privileges tied to my strings I was successful.

I tried very hard and meant well, but failed to keep in mind the “rest of the world” that the kids would be facing when I was not pulling the strings, and the mean world, that does not have a pill and a counselor that pop out on every corner. The result was that the kids would leave my foster home or alternative school or program with a solid foundation of social skills and maybe even a sense of right and wrong to some extent. However in some situations they faced down the road of life, they got slapped very hard by the brutal reality of a cruel and apathetic world, which they were protected from to some extent.

Some ended up looking around for a counselor or person to guide them on their every move. The clinical aspect of some projects I was involved in was almost enshrined and given a position that made it almost impossible for the kids to function without in the real world without. No question that either way, all of the kids any of us served ended up with something they probably did not have when they came. They often came from the streets, gangs, broken homes, all of the above or whatever. Any skill set or tools they could attain would put them one step ahead of the kids they were around before.

However now I have had years to look back, and even still talk to some of the kids who lived in my group home 20 years ago.  I strongly feel a good service was done to them by pulling them out of abusive or abandoned situations. I never question that teaching them extensively how to use and understand social skills like Following Instructions . There are patterns that I see in my next 20 years of working with at risk children and their families, that evolved into more clearly directed and reality based thinking. Patterns that I learned and applied on the run as I found my way around the social worker and counselor’s pathway in the field of mental health. Many and dare I even say most of my most productive lessons that have produced fruit over the years came from a teenager I worked with. I am not discouraging higher education by any means, but as a parent and having lived more than half of my life in the mental health circles I must say my heart bleeds now a little thicker  that I have watched my own family suffer, and lived in the same places that some of the teens I worked with lived. I have known the pains of suicide in a family, and have shared in the terrible dark place of addiction with many people I love. Things change.

How this relates to the article about the two administrators is that since I have been also in the identical place they are, with the same challenges they have, I see from a unique perspective. I learn things everyday, and I do not think anyone has all of the answers. I do however firmly believe that just as I may be but a student in one field, I also may have become an “expert” in another. By expert, if you are checking my article for typos I think you may be on a different page than some of us are. I aim to please nobody, but to serve everyone in some small way and my idea of an expert is simply someone I know that has the truth about a certain situation.

This brings me a step closer to the main point and my take on the two schools. I have learned something very powerful in this world. You become much like those you spend time with. You lower the morality bar when needed, and raise it high and proud when called for, but to those we desire to be around, we will become almost anybody! The hard lesson I have learned by this truth  surfaced when I came to realize I was a pleaser. After spending a few years in shock about that, I came around to gain a valuable tool. I learned that I needed to find people who I liked and admired, and try to get as much time with them as I could! Then I might become one of them.

A person who had abandoned the temporary security of a job, or money, or pleasing all of the people all of the time, and embraced the idea of being who you are, learning all that you could learn from the people who had conquered the challenges I faced. Using the gifts you were given not the ones you wished you had. You see, jobs come and go, people come and go, money comes and goes, but the truth will always be truth. Going to bed with a clear mind and a content heart also beats laying down worrying how to be someone you are not, and how to please all the people. In some way, this all leads back to another topic, maybe not discussed as much, perhaps much more important though. That subject, is motives. Motives tell everything and leave nothing uncovered. They are the success of some and the doom for others.

This article was written by a 19-year-old. I have never met him but can safely assume from his age bracket alone that he will probably be likely to stand up for what he thinks is right and wrong. I remember when my boys were young, around 5 or 6 years old. They were so very impressionable. So trusting. If I said that the sun would leap over the giant giraffe at the zoo that night, the look in their eyes was never one of doubt, never debating in their mind as to whether I was lying or not. They trusted me. They would ask me questions like “will it hurt the giraffe?” and things that showed me they had no doubt in my word. It was good.

The other day I was talking to my youngest son Jesse about a bull riding competition he was getting ready for. For you with dropping jaws right now, the answer is yes I do let him  ride 1500 and 1800lb bulls to see how long until he gets bucked off or until he rides it out the full 8 seconds. When people ask me the”how could you let him question” on a Friday night, I usually respond with a “where is Johnny tonite” and we change topics. They do not always know where their children are, but they think I am nuts for having mine on dirt bikes at 4&6 and now bulls.

I rarely let it get to me, but if for even a milli- second I doubted myself for supporting him since age 10 doing this, one glance over at his eyes and I am fine. He is so memorized by those animals, so focused on getting the biggest baddest and meanest bull and riding it out. I know that he truly loves what he is doing. Because he loves it, he studies those that are older than him, that ride for the big buckles and in the big arenas. He has studied the safety and risk, the benefits and potential problems, and then over years, he has now decided to pursue it as a career (with a plan B of course) and a dream to chase. Jesse and I have ongoing joke about something that happened when he was about 10. For a long time, maybe two years or so, his brother Micah and I would be out at the store (usually somewhere Jesse wanted to go) and when we got to the check out counter and Jesse and Micah would put their items on the counter and then like clockwork there it was, that “look.” It was a certain type of innocent look that for almost 2 years Micah and I had fallen for since we were usually in a hurry. After the frozen look followed a light surprised “I lost it” and many frantic hand pats to check his pockets….”I lost my money!”

That was followed by a quick check of time and a “I got it Jess, just get in the truck” by me, and a head nod by his older brother. After 2 years or so, when Jesse was around 10, we had heard every possible excuse about where his money suddenly went, every story about how he would pay us back when we got in the car, because he was sure he left it there LOL! We let Jesse con us out of buying little 3-4 dollar items for a long time now, but this time was different. Looking back I do recall that 10 is right about when he met his first few cowboys and started going to rodeos, so it could have been that. Whatever it was this time was different and we all knew it. Jesse had his cowboy boots on and instead of delaying our trip by doing a 5 minute drama clip, he said nothing. He quietly walked to the register in front of us, put  down his items, pulled out his chain wallet (cowboy style) and paid the lady quickly and waited for us.

As we walked out into the parking lot, I ribbed him a little about finding his wallet, and he smiled but didn’t say much. We all just knew it, Jesse was growin up and there was not much more to it. From that time on he has never pulled the wallet trick. And I have seen many of those transitional moments where something important took place but you are not sure what! I allowed Jesse to do that for a long time with the wallet thing. I knew that I had already taught him what was right and wrong, and some would say I should have stopped it long before. I did not want to force his honesty. I was not on a power trip or an authority ride either. I was just a dad waiting to see if any of what I had sown in to the boy was going to bear fruit on its own or would I have to force the truth out of him. I was never the perfect dad, but an honest one. When I made mistakes, big or small I would come clean and do what I could to correct my wrong. I think my boys respected that. There was always a line, don’t get me wrong. Jesse and Micah did their fair share of testing my lines! However I have usually found that at the end of the day I am happy-that I let them make their own choices. Sure it was freedom within limits, and there were always things that were deal breakers no matter what the excuse. It was just nice to know that Jesse knew what was right, and at the right time, his true motives had to come out and that attempt at testing me had to go. Had I not let him have it his way for a while he would have never experienced the feeling everyone gets when they know they are not doing the right thing, but continue anyhow. Sometimes it is better to tell the truth and even if you end up on the wrong side of the story, people will usually respect you more for it. It also makes you human, shows that you are vulnerable , life can be tough, and even your messes can turn into messages for young kids and your failed efforts may be what a struggling teenager needs to hear at the moment in order to keep on trucking in their own situation.

In this situation as I see it, we have a thirst for power needing to be quenched no matter the cost to the child on the one side. I have said it once and maybe 1000 times if ever once, loved people love people and hurt people hurt people. You do not need to be Columbo to figure out why some people are doing the things they are. We all know about the high school football coach still working through some high school issues, acting all tough and making threats every time he can. We have all seen examples of what verbal or physical abuse does to people.Throughout my career and my life in general, I have become pretty good at identifying why people do what they do. I have met police officers who would give their lives to save another life, and I have met officers who could not wait for the moment to exercise their right to pull a gun on someone or thow them in jail. I have met the same nasty motives in every kind of person of any profession. I have seen the purest of motives very clearly, through the humility in a persons daily routine.

So if you ask me do I believe in discipline, I would prefer consequences that are natural and logical. If you ask if medicine is ok I would say if the child needs it. How about the psychobabble mentioned earlier? Well I think it is hard for a 25-year-old with no kids to advise on anything to do with  children , but sometimes a good long walk with a person who has faced similar challenges as you and beat them might be even better. What about the violent gang kids and all, they just need a good old-fashioned  whoopin, right? Probably not, but it might make the adult feel better to see it!

One time, on a project I was working on in Central Florida, I had just hired and trained a staff of about 30 teachers, 10 therapists, 10 assistants, and maybe 10 others to work with the most “violent and aggressive” teens in the state I was told. After a stack of files a few feet thick  full of labels and diagnoses as well offenses each child had committed was placed on the conference table, I was asked by one of the highest ranking officials in the state if I could have them all read before week’s end. I glanced up at the man, and said ” I prefer not to read these unless I have to sir. He leaned over the table and whispered to me, ” these are not children here for telling lies, I would strongly recommend you become familiar with their behavioral patterns.” I said “thank you sir but I prefer they get to know mine”.

I will spare you the details, but I had just taken on the biggest challenge of my career, written a specific behavioral program based on reinforcing the positive,  where students could earn the right to see the principal by being good, not by being bad. I had just convinced all 45 staff that we would be using mostly positive comments to the students  about 10 positive to each 1 negative and also we would treat each child with the utmost respect. I had just finished a comprehensive motivation system that went against every one I had seen, it commanded respect for students while asking staff to keep all comments positive. I wrote in the program different levels of positive behavior that could EARN the kids a lunch with the principal! People thought I was nuts. As a matter of fact I had myself evaluated before implementing this! LOL!

I had a hunch. Just a hunch, that if we showed true respect and trust in these kids, and modeled for them the skill expectations, and rewarded them if they did so by getting some one on one time with me or other staff, we would see change and quick. I believed based on my experience that kids wanted the attention of any adult so badly that they would do very bad things to get a little time with anyone for a variety of reasons. On the day of orientation, my staff all stood in the corner while the six-foot something 10th graders walked by! I had to remind them that they were in charge here. It was great fun though it was a test for many, myself included. Just a hunch, I had just a hunch but I believed in it so much that it became something tangible to me and then to others. Could we take the kids, expelled from public schools, expelled then from day programs, some that we saw on the news every now and again, and make them respect us? Only if we showed them how respect tasted.

A 16-year-old boy came in (most came to orientation without parents) and he was scarred up, ink all over, and I decided to show him around. Half way through the tour, he saw pictures and plants and a well waxed floor, but no time out or restraining rooms. He asked me where all those places were. I told him that we do not have them here because we do not use them here. He stopped in his tracks as the idea sunk in then began to walk with me again, and said one sentence “Oh, so we just can’t act out here” If I yelled any louder I would have scared the boy to death! I was yelling, and telling and calling for my staff to hear what this boy just said! He got it ! He understood! The expectation was there, and it was met with a casual but amazingly powerful response!Next I wanted to really make the kids wonder. Next we showed them a nice large computer lab. Plenty for all to use, but that was not what they were thinking on that first night at orientation. The very last thing they expected for kids with their history was for anyone to trust them with anything again. We took them by surprise and assigned a computer to each one. It was a silent moment with a room full of teenagers who could not figure this out. It was easy for me, and a great investment in their lives. Maybe a chance for them to witness unconditional love, trust and respect at a time when they deserved it the very least. Have you ever felt that from anyone that you have let down? It’s an awesome feeling, a second chance on the 81st try, a new light in the dark tunnel of life. That night, on the first interaction between staff and student, I watched and breathed a sigh of relief. It was going to work. I was going to get to witness a little magic and the only price we would have to pay was giving some respect to those who did not feel they deserved it, and some trust to those who thought they had lost all rights to being trusted years ago.

Just respect and trust. It came down to those two critical components to make a huge group of failures begin to feel like winners. The kids who were so very disrespectful all the years before, were now being treated as if it all never happened.

We had 90 kids and about 85% success rate. The school district superintendent called us Stonehenge, he did not understand how it worked, but saw that it did. I was even nominated for school district administrator of the year my first year! Kids were returning to their schools using words like “yes sir” and “thank you”. Amazing job my staff did and those kids did as well. It took everyone but it worked.  A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Even if you have 50 links, they have to all give what they can.

Shortly after our first year I noticed the company I worked with to do this project was asking lots of questions about what we did, and suddenly wanted my written plan and numbers of students transitioning back to their zoned schools and all these details. I did not mind that part, but there was something missing. They were not happy for the kids, and the way they had turned themselves around. As a matter of fact they seemed disturbed.

It was just a few days later when I became disturbed. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew what I was doing was right. The district was all over it, nothing but rave reviews from parents and everyone. Everyone, except the people in south Florida in the accounting department. They were losing money to the tune of 18 thousand dollars per year for each child we sent back to their zoned school. You know I was going to finish that story, but just cannot let what was a very sweet victory for those kids go out on a downer here. The point I really need to emphasize here, is that it is possible to take the kids with the worst background on paper you may have ever seen, and using a few simple tools begin to give them new hope.

It has been done and will be done over and over again, providing that every staff member is on board with the theory. That the staff know it may mean total humiliation on their part to make a point to a hardened heart. It would mean even if they did not understand the vision, they trusted the leader. Staff that could get to watch miracles happen, so long as they were ok with getting their “hands dirty”so to speak. When it comes right down to it, we end up back at motives again.

People in the human services profession in general should never choose that option if there may be an issue with why they are doing the job. Policeman, teachers, therapists, and many other positions of authority are unusually affected if they have impure motives. The teachers that steal a child’s trust away by committing an inappropriate act, the policeman who has power/ego problems. They are everywhere. In every profession there are the true and the counterfeit. Try to find the ones who make it obvious they will do whatever it takes to change a life. Look for the ones with the glimmer in their eye when you even talk about what good may come out of this. Identify the rare trait of humility, the guys who do not have an ” I love me wall” in their office. Humility can easily copied, but never duplicated. The less people talk about themselves the more I want to know. If people are too busy patting themselves on the shoulder, what makes you think they will make time for you to have the one left? I do not really know the two men that are running these 2 schools. I have never met them. I would be interested in seeing some of the fruit of their labors. More importantly, and my final answer, is that there is respect and trust shown, and that lives are being changed. Lives, not temporary behavioral modifications. Thats not hard at all. What trumps all other victories, is when you see that the child you have invested in is now investing that into someone else. if you have a goal to “get them through” high school, I think its unfair to the student. If you have a goal to teach them life skills and how to use them in everyday living, then you can actually begin to teach kids. After all, that is why we came, is it not? To teach things? Teach the unteachable to learn, 

and teach him to give and you will have invested in a life. Help a student learn to take orders to get through a certain period in their life is not building a foundation for them. It is just a way of passing time. I still talk to many of the kids who were teens when I met them and it is always the greatest compliment when someone says that something I did changed their life. I do not hear it often, but I never forget when I do. We all make mistakes along the journey. Never let fear stop you from trying something that may turn out very good for others…after all, you would never really know unless you gave it a shot, would you?

If I had to pick based on the little I know of these two schools, I would say No to the power team, and a maybe to the other. If I were to guess who had the appropriate motives, I would say the school who has the therapist on every corner. That may come back to bite when the child hits the real world, but it seems like the hearts are good. What I would really need to know who is going to succeed on either side, is to see what both schools have incorporated into the lives of the kids AFTER they are out of school. What stays and pays dividends? You ask me, I say respect and trust must be given to be earned with these kids. I think given the right scenario anyone can change a life for 3-4 years. How many can change one forever during the 3-4 years? I want to see those kids paying for their stuff at the store because it is the right thing to do, not because they had to when at a certain school. My Jesse, and thousands of other kids I have been worked around did it! They were taught how, given the trust to know when to make a change, and made the change on their own. I hope other kids get that same chance in their educational career. Loved people love people. Hurt people should not be running children’s lives. Just my two cents.


Wal-Mart man goes “crazy”

While at the store a man suddenly drops down in fornt of my wife and I and starts “mimicking” a seizure like movement. As we watched, the man casually “stopped” seizuring, and grabbed his sunglasses.

We contemplated the man’s mental health condition. After a short while, we walked away in silence….then she said ” come to think of it, if he was faking it, he must be crazy , so either way the man needs a psychiatrist”

Some things are better left said to women…LOL! She was right though!


If you had to pick a label….

If you had to pick a label....

Are you stumped? Would  you know what kind of label to  put on this young college student?
How about serial killer ? Why not? This is a college photo of a young man who most of us know as John Wayne Gacy the Clown serial murderer……


Is this man a liar?

Is this man a liar?

Most readers tend to believe what they think. Most readers tend to gather the information they think from social media and research on their own, Based on what you know of this man, would you feel it would it would be fair to call him a liar? And Why>

Is AD/HD even for real? Could it be just an excuse for kids, and big business for the doctors and drug companies?

Is AD/HD even for real? Could it be just an excuse for kids and and big business for the doctors and drug companies?

This is where the two sides divide. The old school crowd argues that all of these new “disorders” have been made up to take advantage of the problems some children have today. They point directly to the billions that have been made in the drug industry and the medical field.
After all, the diagnoses itself did not even exist 40 or 50 years ago! Could today’s society be responsible for the problems the youth of the nation and world are having? Back in the day, kids worked a job before and after school, and would never disrespect a parent. Video games with hyper-explicit graphics, television shows that portray images that would have been considered totally inappropriate for any audience, now appear in shows for 10-12 year old kids. That disrespectful disposition that kids have today was groomed by these things, and a lack of families with a both parents in the same house. As a matter of fact, many people are fearful they will go to jail if they even discipline their child. Today’s children have been ushered into this world with a sense of entitlement, and a lack of respect for authority in any form. These types of arguments are very common with people who grew up in a world where a teenager would help an old lady across the street, not steal her purse and hit her. They were young when you had to work the land or milk the cows before school, and if you looked sideways at an adult, you got to go pick out a switch or a belt, so you can get a few licks with it. Not so in the world we live in. That is a fact that nobody I have met will argue. The question is how did we get from there to here?
Did we create our own monster by going overboard with the whole diagnoses thing?
Is the DSM-V an inch thicker than it should be? That is one of the questions I asked myself about 20 years ago and I believe I am correct that it is possible. We may have become label superstars, addressing every problem people have with a pill or a diagnoses. How do you feel about the issue?

If you need help,


Should parents be able to take over their child’s school for non performance?

Interesting concept. Do you think the problems in schools like the ones in this project are the kids? The parents? The teachers? The standards? Personally, I think it is useless to try to teach children anything if they have never been taught the necessary social skills to be able to be taught. I also think that teachers are responsible to model the expectation behaviorally, before they can ever get to the idea of teaching. I would not ask someone to build a house without making sure they had a set of tools that were sufficient. Along those lines, I have learned from operating programs for expelled kids, that I could not ask them to be willing to learn and listen, when they did not have the skill set needed. That is called setting a kid up for failure. Now, with that said, it may be the parents who are responsible for not teaching the skills, but that is an entirely different topic, that we will address. What are you thinking as you read this? Please share.

If you or someone you know needs help with behavioral issues, or family problems, you can contact me for personal attention and follow through with your loved one or friend.


Does my child need medicine for behavior problems? Do I?

Wow. I don’t really know where to begin on this one, as the medicine proponents and the medicine opponents both present good cases on some of the issues. I am presenting this very detailed article about medicine, disorders, clinical trials, etc.

One thing many people do not know is that drug companies are working just as hard to get new drugs for kids and adults out there, as the anti-drug people are trying to teach people how to manage some disorders with talk therapy and behavioral techniques. The problem is that getting a drug approved by the FDA is (allegedly) based on who is trying to get it by them. Although they put on a pretty good front that they have strict clinical trial requirements, the truth is when Eli-Lily comes forward with their “data” to support  a new drug for kids with conduct disorder, their seems to be a lack of public exposure to any of the trials, or if the trials are published, the results are worded something like this;

“After rigorous testing and a sample group trial of 500 volunteers who qualified for the 6 month trial, it was determined that of the 500 with similar symptoms, more than 50% reported noticing a positive impact on their behavior. ( This is where they want you to say WOW! I need to get that!)

The following sample statement, or one similar may be used to close the deal while quietly revealing the real truth of the outcomes.

” After monitoring patients daily x 3, for 6 months in a controlled environment, it was determined that 267 patients reported a 25% improvement in their behavior.

200 patients reported at least a 15% increase in positive behavior.

31 patients reported at least a 10% increase in positive behavior

*2 patients did not finish clinical trial.

So, I am not going to belabor the point, by going even deeper into the politics and money involved in the drug industry, but will cut to the chase. The information presented to the FDA could easily meet criteria for the FDA to approve the drug, and has been done all the time. Whats the problem? Read the results again and break them down. It would be more transparent to state it this way- ” After running clinical trial on 500 patients who all met criteria for this research study, it was found that about half of the patients noticed at least a 10% increase in positive behavior, and some reported as high as a 25% improvement!”

So, lets break this down. I see a commercial on television or read an article about a drug that is supposed to help with the symptoms I or my child has. I am interested. I read on, and even check the results of the trial in the article and it says more than 50% of all those tested reported a positive outcome from this drug. Wow! I have a 50/50 chance of my child or myself getting help from this! You go to the doctor, and show the article and he agrees to try it, and may even give you free samples that just happened to have arrived from the pharmaceutical rep. Even better. The doc tells you it may take 6 weeks to reach “therapeutic” levels. He gives you a script for next month. You have now left the doctor hopeful, excited, knowing you have a 50/50 shot at seeing a change on this medicine! The hard cold truth, is that you have left the office with a script that you may have a 50% chance of experiencing at least a 10% change in behavior, possibly up to a 25% change. In regular talk, it means if you or a child you have has 20 tantrums a day, you, if you fall into the 50%, may see only 18 tantrums per day, and at very best see only 14 -15 tantrums per day! Is that going to give you relief? I can reduce my child’s behavior my 20% anytime I want just by taking them to the library. Its quiet there, and even the most problematic people whether adults or kids can adjust their behavior according to the environment they are put in.

So there it is. A short snapshot of what can and does happen behind the scenes. What will you think the next time you see a drug ad that seems perfect for you, and is backed with decent numbers? That is not my decision, but is is my duty to share the truth on here, and that’s what I am doing here. Are drugs all bad? I doubt it. Are drugs extremely misleading when advertised, for sure. So what now? If you are facing a situation that involves medicine or behavioral issues for kids or adults, contact me to save yourself thousands of dollars and years of experimenting. I can help you personally, just click here and I will stay with you until you no longer need help.


Have you ever leaned over the edge of a cliff, or high place and thought about…

Here is an interesting twist to the concept of intuitive actions or thoughts and how they relate, if they do – to mental health. I am pretty sure admitting this or stating that you have felt what this article describes, could land you in a locked facility for 72 hours! Here we are again, wondering what comment or thought we share with someone may have irreversible consequences….

Read and see if you have ever felt the urge that is outlined in this article!


If you need, or know someone who needs help with an issue related to mental health or behavioral problems, I can help. Contact me-


What is the definition of crazy ?

What is the definition of crazy ?

Many times we hear the term crazy when someone is describing another person. I hear it in the store, in the groups I hang out with and all over the place.I think there might be more to this statement then meets the eye. Maybe we are all crazy, and he who goes normal the most gets the least mental health treatment! That seems to make sense.

“My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you’re ugly too. ”
Rodney Dangerfield

What is this Don’t Label My Kid! blog all about?

Recently, a few people have inquired about this blog, and what exactly the goal is of having it out here anyway. I am briefly sharing why we are here. I have been a professional in the Social Work/ Mental Health field for 25 years. I have worked front line with people who have the most severe disabilities both mentally and physically that you can imagine. I have also spent a dozen years working with very troubled families, teens, gang members, and kids who just had a variety of problems that needed to be addressed.

I have worked with psychiatrists, psychologists, other clinicians, hundreds of families in crisis, adults with mental health issues like depression or anxiety, and actually have been a live- in foster parent to six of these teens at a time, for about 5 years, allowing me to work daily and live with about 25 foster kids in my home. I am certified 4x as a Family Teacher, I have built motivation systems and behavior modification programs for hospitals, for schools, and mostly for private families who have exhausted every idea they had , but cannot get the kids under control, or they themselves are in need of support. I have been the problem solver for these people. I have done the best job I could to help people, through my own advice, other resources, and on going support from me, as a Social Worker and seem to have done some good while enjoying helping people solve their problems. I have resources in every area of behaviors, mental health issues, teen problems, depression and anything listed in the DSM.

My passion in all this, is to see people avoid labels or diagnoses if possible, and to help people who actually need or have a diagnoses to overcome the stigma that can come with a label. Thus, I am pro Don’t Label My Kid! Sometimes it has to be done to control situations, but many times we can get to the root problem without getting tagged my a doctor, who after a 45 minute session may label you with 3 or 4 different mental health diagnoses. These labels are potentially difficult for some to overcome, and often diagnosed way too early, or without all the facts. I know this because I am the one who qualified people for mental health diagnoses when I worked for several psychiatrists. Things are not always as they appear, and there are big drug companies involved now, pushing big drugs on doctors who in turn sometimes pass on to patients through diagnosing them with a DSM-V disorder. I have tried to make a difference in the lives of others, had success, and want to continue doing just that. Contact me so we can tackle what you have to face. Never face it alone.

I have worked and will work with any population. You may see articles about other age groups on as the stigma can apply to any age group. Follow along and see what things we can help you with!

I can also be reached by email –

Living life like everyone was watching…

Living life like everyone was watching...

This is one of my favorites. Mother Teresa on living life. Not many know that her 50 years of serving others was riddled with depression. She chose to do what was right regardless of how it felt. Do we act on our feelings, or on what the right thing to do is? Making choices that we know are right, but feel oh so wrong is a key to breaking through to the next level in our capacity to learn.


The tongue has the power of life and death! Watch what you say!

I have spent enough time working with people over the years to watch how their words have affected the things that happen to them. I am not a “mind over matter” guy. I do not subscribe to any hypnotism (not that it has not worked for some), and I am not too much of a “visualize it and you will see it happen” guy either.

I do however firmly believe, based on my first hand experience that what we say can determine what happens in our lives. More importantly, what we say to our loved ones can cut like a sword and leave one wounded in the soul. We need to speak things that we want to happen, and not live to talk about all the bad things that might happen. On that same note, we need to change the way we think, to start focusing in on all the good in our lives. It is human nature to find fault, no matter what the situation. I have met some who could be given 100,000 dollars and then complain that the bills were too old. Some people cannot be pleased, as they have become bitter, as if this world owes them something. It has been said that out of the mouth comes the overflow of the heart. Hard hearts produce bitter words, soft hearts produce kind and encouraging words. Someone, some place, right now has a much more difficult situation than we face. Why not be thankful for what we have, and say positive things to others?

I will close this post with a story I heard. A man was being interviewed by a radio station because he was a local guy who had hit it big in some clearinghouse sweepstakes, and got a sum of 8 million dollars. The radio personalities were jovial and celebrating with him. Suddenly, asked about his family and how they would celebrate, the man became quiet, and very emotional. At this point the producer slipped the DJ a note, letting him know that the man had lost his 8 year old son to cancer about a year before. Trying to be gentle, and sympathetic the host told the man how sorry he was about his son dying, and that he just found out. The DJ , trying to be comforting, said the following ” I know you would give the 8 million dollars back in a second to have your son back”. Silence, and then a burst of emotion and tears from the father, who hardly able to speak replied with the following statement ” have him back? Have him back? I would give the 8 million just to say goodbye to him”

Sometimes we need to focus on what is right, not what is wrong. We need to speak things that are encouraging, not hurtful.



Is my DSM mental health diagnoses correct? How do I know? I don’t feel Bi-Polar!

Well. I said it was coming and the plane has landed on this topic. I like to keep my posts easy to read and filled with information, yet brief enough that you can take the time to read them. My best shot here at doing this. Asking the question “is my diagnoses accurate” is really not one that can be answered by anyone.

If you ask ” do my symptoms seem to meet the criteria for a diagnoses of depression” for example, it is much easier to answer. Everyone experiences periods of depression at some point in their lifetime. Usually a medical professional will call this “situational depression”. If the symptoms last longer than a certain period of time, you may be bumped up to a new level of depression, such as Major Depressive disorder, or Depression not specified, which is also known as NOS. Not otherwise specified. So say you have a loved one die, and you are slightly depressed. That is normal. However, after a few weeks you begin to drink a little nip throughout the day to get you by. The next few weeks are even worse, so you see a psychiatrist. You tell him you have been feeling depressed for a month or more, and leave out the drinking part. You are now just a few questions away from a major depression diagnoses! The doctor may ask you if you ever have mood swings. Maybe next a quicky about if anyone in the family has suffered from depression. Family history plays a part in diagnosing too! You answer “well, uncle Jim is a big drinker and gets depressed all the time, but the rest of us are good.” Then a few more questions and suddenly you are leaving with prescription for an anti-depressant in hand, and a label to go with it. You are now “suffering” from major depressive disorder.

How can that be, you ask? Simple, it is all in the bible of mental health, the DSM-V which is the latest edition. Recently, some diagnoses were removed under the Autism spectrum, not because they do not exist, but the cost to treat the child or adult was too much. So, they take it out of the DSM and POOF! The diagnoses is not valid anymore and the benefits go away. The DSM is a book with a list of diagnoses and the criteria needed to meet those diagnoses. Many people could easily meet criteria for some type of psychosis, as we have all had our moments.

However, when I was collecting information with a psychiatrist for years helping to rule out, or issue a diagnoses, I noticed something unsettling. Many times after I screened a client and either found that they met criteria for a diagnoses, such as AD/HD, I realized that the information I received from the parent was often verbatim of at least 10 symptoms which must be present out of the 13 needed to be diagnosed with AD/HD. They knew what to say to meet criteria since they did their homework! When a child has a “disability” many places will issue a check to the guardian each month for the “disability”. I once had a mother tell me that she had 3 small boys and got them all diagnosed with something, and made more money than she ever could working for a living!

There is also the huge problem of living up to the label, which we often see in public everyday. People are told they have ” anger control” problems, so what do they do? They live up to the expectation! They have a good excuse. Now let me be clear,there are people who have uncontrollable behaviors that need medication and 1 on 1 monitoring all the time. These are not the ones I refer to. There will be more detail on the DSM-V and the power it gives a mental health professional in coming posts. Right now, think about how you, or someone you know was diagnosed with whatever disorder they have. Do they act any different since they were told about their new-found disorder? People tend to believe what they are told!

People do not often dispute anything they are told when it comes to mental health issues, unless they have a background in it, just like any other profession. For example-

I posted a statistic yesterday about what percentage of information we believe and how we adopt information from what other people say. Specific numbers. I made it all up. I did not get one bit of feedback or a comment disputing my numbers. I will not do that again, but it needs to be shown how vulnerable we are sometimes.

Please leave any comments or questions you may have, and do contact me personally for help in whatever situation you are in. I am a trained Social Worker with 25 years in the field, working with all ages, and disabilities. I can help you for an hour, for a month, or support you through an even longer period if needed.

Please view my link at




Will this book affect you or someone you love forever?
Today I will share with you my experiences over 25 years with this book and how it is used by doctors to give out labels. Its not for the faint of heart, so my next post may be surprising to some, but it is the truth. That’s what I do.

Teens with labels- ODD, ADD, ADHD, and anger management problems. Are they really powerless over the label?

One of the first days I served as an administrator for a school for violent, expelled, uncontrollable teens, I met a 17 year old who approached me and said he had ODD, and several other disorders. He was warning me , in his own way that he has no control, when he “goes off” he just loses control. Throws desks, hits anybody around, and would not be able to adhere to our guidelines of mutual respect and no physical contact with other students.

He left my office, and I thought about what he said, and made a plan. A plan to show him what he did have control over. The plan would call for me to catch him when he was in an irritated state. I waited a few days, and sure enough, I got a call that he was saying he was about to go off on everyone. At about 6 foot 6 and about 230lbs, he posed a real threat to others. I headed straight for his area, and asked him to come with me. He followed me to my office, wondering what was going on, when I grabbed my truck keys and asked him to go for a ride with me.

Ten minutes later we were walking through a Wal-Mart, discussing how angry he was, I asked him to tell me what set him off. We then went to a library, and he looked me and whispered “why did you take me here”? I leaned in, and whispered back, saying “to show you that you are in total control of your behavior. If you were not, you would have hit the check out guy at Wal-Mart and maybe tipped over a book shelf at the library”. After a few seconds he whispered back ” but you can’t do that kind of stuff in a library”. We talked for a little bit, and it did not take him long to figure out what the point of all this was. We got back to the school, we got out of my truck, and he glanced over at me ad said ” So this is my library, huh?

That student never had one episode again of even a verbal threat to anyone, because he himself realized that for many years he had just been living up to the labels assigned to him. Now, he was free to exercise control he had been told by many that he did not have. A trip to the library. That is what it took for one student to climb out of an old label and into a new way of life. The point is, people will usually believe what they are told about them repeatedly year after year, and in many cases begin to live and act according the labels they were given. If you know anybody stuck in the label trap, please contact me for personal help and support on how to shake labels that were assigned to you or the people you love.