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Old 02-14-2020, 09:09 PM
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Florida's Baker Act-Overused, or overcriticized?


This story about a six year old girl is all over the news. After supposedly acting out of control at school, a social worker called the police and had her committed to a mental hospital for two days...without informing the mother first. The news reports state that the use of the 50 year old Baker Act has doubled in the last 15 years, and I'm thinking that this needs looking into.
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Old Yesterday, 05:28 AM
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Questions that I don't have the answer to: Do many of these children come from abusive homes? Are mental health problems on the rise in America? Do Florida's mental health centers offer an appropriate calming environment? Was the social worker really qualified (I know he/she had a certificate, but that doesn't answer the question) to essentially incarcerate the child? How is a school supposed to cope with unmanageable students?

But whatever the answers to these questions, something is dreadfully wrong. I was shocked by the following statistic:
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The number of children involuntarily transported to a mental health center in Florida has more than doubled in the last 15 years, to about 36,000, according to a 2019 report by the Baker Act Reporting Center.
source: https://www.usf.edu/cbcs/baker-act/d..._2017_2018.pdf
That's 36,000 under-18's annually, 1% of the under-18 population. (Or 206,000 for all ages, 1% of Florida's total population. I suppose the numbers are "inflated" by individuals involuntarily transported to a mental health center more than once in a single year, though the number still seems frighteningly high.)

For comparison, I wondered how many times a 72-hour involuntary hold is exercised in California, but Google failed me. (I did learn that the enabling statute, 5-1-5-0, is well-known enough to be the name of a pop song by Dierks Bentley.)
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Old Yesterday, 08:36 AM
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Old Yesterday, 10:14 AM
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Checking government figures, it appears that in Colorado, about 0.8% of minors are subject to involuntary 72-hour mental health holds.

Colorado has one of the highest teenage suicide rates in the nation (I believe 6th-highest), so I'm not sure if that involuntary hold number should be higher, or whether the number of holds prevents the suicide rate from being even higher than it is.
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Old Yesterday, 11:29 AM
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After reading that article, I would add a third option: poorly designed. The law does not appear to be intended for the purpose in which it was used. In fact, it isn't even designed for children at all--let alone children at a school with a treatment plan.

These types of laws usually exist to be able to diagnose and begin treatment on an undiagnosed or treatment resistent individual with a mental disorder who is harmful to themselves or others. The first half is for those who attempt suicide. The second half is for those with some sort of psychotic episode where they wind up harming others.

The law should be restricted to adults outside of the public school system, and, if necessary, a new law created for the schools that takes into account the current diagnosis, treatment plans, and whether or not the child could be adequately dealt with using the school's own system. And there is absolutely no reason that the child should be isolated from their parent unless there is sign of some sort of abuse.

I can actually sympathize with the idea that a young child can actually be a danger. My mom works with special needs kids at schools, and she's explained how it's surprising how much force a little kid can have if they go full out. (Restrictions like pain and not wanting to hurt yourself hold back most kids, even subconsciously. For example, you can easily bite your own tongue, but go ahead and try to do it intentionally.)

But nothing is gained by having these kids whose diagnosis already explains their actions has an action plan in how to deal with them being committed against their will to be evaluated. And, again, there's no reason beyond abuse for a parent not to be present.

You do not remove a child from their parent without evidence of abuse by that parent. That is cruel, even for 48 hours.
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Old Today, 01:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
This story about a six year old girl is all over the news. After supposedly acting out of control at school, a social worker called the police and had her committed to a mental hospital for two days...without informing the mother first. The news reports state that the use of the 50 year old Baker Act has doubled in the last 15 years, and I'm thinking that this needs looking into.
You'll prolly be thinking it needs looking into like right fucking now after you see this video of the deputy questioning why she was doing this to a little girl she described as "quite pleasant" as she had her in the police cruiser.
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Originally Posted by Deputy ????
I think it's more of them just not knowing how to deal with it.
Nadia, only 6 years old, had no idea what was going on.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; Today at 01:36 AM. Reason: fixed coding
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Old Today, 02:07 AM
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Is there any reason you can think of not to call the mother?
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Old Today, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
Is there any reason you can think of not to call the mother?
Only if the school knew of some abusive past, which is not at all in evidence here.

I'm trying to imagine what I would do if I found out my 6 year old child were taken by a police cruiser to a mental hospital without my knowledge or consent. I don't know that I can even get there mentally -- best case, I would show up armed with several lawyers to get my kid released to me immediately. I've rewritten this several times -- I think I would end up doing something that would land me in jail if my kid weren't immediately released to me.

This is horrifying.
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