Title: Riot Pie, Humble Pie or Just food for thought
Tags: riots ADHD Ritalin
Blog Entry: Riot Pie, Humble Pie or just  food for thought?   Since the riots of summer 2011 in England  began, we have heard nothing but analysis. Why ? Who? When? Where? What for? Everyone holds an opinion on the reasons underpinning the drama playing out in our streets.  A week later, we are dizzy from the spin of political dogma and social agendas that  are self justifying  in the evaluation of lost causes. Holding an opinion is as “Easy as pie”! Well, There are a lot of ingredients that go into making a home-made pie. It’s not just about stirring and flaky pastry! It is only when ingredients come together in the right mix, proportions and conditions that  “pie” is made. This is the very situation that major cities like my own in Wolverhampton England, found stewing,  over the summer vacation period. So speculation to one side – let’s look at a few basic ingredients… • Arrests ( at the time of writing this article) totalled 1927, of which 445 (23%) were made,  in my area, the West Midlands. • Well over half of the arrests were young people born in the 1990s with an average age of 19 years 11 months. • 26% were below 18 and 12% were of school age. • Cost of riots, at present stands well over £100 million pounds and rising. • 38% were unemployed. 1 in 5 young people aged between 16- 24 in the UK is now unemployed, a global problem affecting  no less than 81 million young people worldwide. • Educational cuts, local authority cut backs,  abolition of EMAs and increasing higher education costs  mean that climbing out of the pit of hopelessness is “pie in the sky” for many of these young people today. Many students ( my own son, a case in point have already been brought to financial ruin at a tender age and stage in their career due to mismanagement and incompetence of nameless bureaucrats heading  a student finance services organisation, forced to apologise to the nation  for its own blundering bureaucracy. • Against a backdrop of the riots were unprecedented swings and speculation, as a global economy teeters precariously on the edge of collapse. Forewarnings of an autumn of planned demonstrations  and strikes against public sector cuts and  job losses. What of daily launched media messages fuelling this “summer of discontent”? So what else does our ‘Riot Pie’ need next? Simmering  at the  right temperature? In physics we have something called the ‘critical point’. This is where a substance changes state, for example when water changes into steam. Around about ‘critical point’ things start to get very interesting…. There is also a sociological trigger point – a critical temperature that is known to ignite social unrest and riots. Lance Workman, head of the Psychology Department at Bath Spa University College, has linked hot weather to levels of serotonin (the feel good factor chemical ) in the brain, which can cause aggression.    “The majority of riots occur when temperature increases to between 27C and 32C,” he said.“When the temperature goes over 32C, however, riots level off and begin to fall because people become so hot they can’t be bothered.”`   So how were the ingredients of ‘Riot Pie’ prepared?   September 2007, saw freshly harvested ingredients. Maturing in casks of oak, almost 5 years to the day since Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury hit headlines by defining a generation in crisis. His  remarks come on the same day that the Children’s Society launched an inquiry into the state of childhood, concerned at reports of rising levels of child depression in the UK. They expressed concern about a climate of "fear and confusion" among young people, pointing to higher levels of depression and mental illness in this country than elsewhere in the European Union. Lets not forget the ‘piquancy’ of David Cameron’s quote from July 2006:   “The ‘Hoodies’ need love not hate”. Party political agendas tasted of a very different flavour when the Tory leader said to the public that that they needed to be more  understanding of the reasons why young people turn to crime.   ADHD? The revenge of a generation on Ritalin.   June 20th 2006 saw  a new recipe for disaster served up: The Daily Mail quoted “More than a million children have mental health problems, a doubling of the number in a generation, devastating research reveals today. An epidemic of disorders ranging from depression, anxiety and anorexia to violent delinquency has struck one in ten youngsters.” An interesting added ingredient to this ‘Riot Pie’ is  what was served up over the past 5 years to address an increasing population of young people with problems which sparked the “generation in crisis” debate. This year has seen the British Psychological Society, and the Association of Educational Psychologists  call for an urgent review into the use of medications like Ritalin Stimulant medications given to children sometimes as young as 3, ( as the case with one disaffected and dysfunctional young ‘Hoodie’ now aged 15, whom I am now working with). Ritalin and similar  medications are currently prescribed to young people to address ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. This is a  condition with symptoms defined by a behavioural checklist  which  includes  acting without considering consequences, impulsivity, lack of focus, outbursts of aggression to mention but a few. It is estimated that approximately 2.5% of children aged between five and 17 in Britain today has ADHD. Approximately,  220,000 young people. 60,000 of them are being given medication to help control their behaviour. Here is a key ingredient to our Riot pie: The number of prescriptions for these  drugs ( which work in a similar way to illegal drugs like speed or cocaine)  has risen  from 480,000 to 800,000 in the last five years. Despite  professionals within the worlds of psychiatry and psychology disagreeing  strongly on the use of this medication. Critics point out that the largest most comprehensive study of ADHD and medication shows that after eight years, there is little difference between those who have taken medication, and those who have not. And there are potentially serious side effects! Many children lose their appetite, or desire to sleep. A few children react badly, and therefore can have delusions and other serious side effects which are far worse than the original behaviours that they were showing before medication. So having been left with a nasty after taste of riots and reasons where is the solution? 12 years ago I pioneered a programme called HET Holistic Educational Therapy in the City of Wolverhampton. This the seat of such a disproportionate number of arrests per head of population in the recent riots. HET is a highly successful programme, having won awards and commendations for supporting young people with challenges like ADHD and other behavioural labels, alongside their families and professionals. A programme which addresses causes behind many of the 1 in 3 misdiagnoses of ADHD and the 50 different conditions that mimic ADHD symptoms. HET includes natural and effective approaches to behavioural management  that don’t have side effects like the medications which are under call for urgent investigation by concerned professionals. Most of the 100 support organisations, like the pupil referral unit in Wolverhampton that was commended for delivering the HET programme in the early part of the last decade are no longer delivering this programme today due to  breaking up of local education authority support. It would be refreshing to see a serving of “Humble Pie” from our politicians by carrying out a survey into how many of  these  young people arrested were taking medication for ADHD? To quote Mr Cameron’s address to the Tory think tank for social injustice in 2006: “When you see a child walking down the street with a hoodie up, head down, moody swaggering, dominating the pavement – think about what  has bought that child to that moment.” Especially hard to swallow  in light of an email  I personally sent to an aspiring prime minister 5 years ago: “The reason I am writing to you now is to request an opportunity to meet David. Within HET we have a proven system over 8 years that support disaffected young people and their families and all the issues that David has campaigned so tireless for over the years. We consistently achieve over 85% of the objectives set with these young people and there is no other behavioural strategy that matches our success rate. Despite being heralded a  "flagship of excellence" by a DfES consultant and commended by OFSTED, and there being a phenomenal demand and interest from parents, children and professionals for this approach... I have been unable to gain support from anyone in the political arena for this programme.”   This is the reply from his office  -  Kate Marley:     “As much as David would love to invest some time in meeting with you, unfortunately I do not think this will be possible any time soon. As I am sure you can imagine his diary is just so busy at the moment, what with the local elections round the corner. He has so many plans for regional tours that his diary is booked up well into and after May at the moment! It might therefore be advisable for you to approach our Shadow Education team in case they are able to meet you or get involved a little more should they wish.” Needless to say they didn’t! Anyone interested in finding out more about the solution rather than the problems, including young people, families and professionals seeking support at this time for behavioural issues can access online help, support and resources from   REFERENCES: .