The State of Florida has a program called the Baker Act. The Baker Act is a Florida law that allows people with mental illnesses to be held involuntarily for up to 72 hours in a mental health treatment facility, if they meet certain criteria. The act can be initiated by law enforcement officials, judges, doctors, or mental health professionals. An adult may be held up to 72 hours, a minor, anyone 17 or younger, is 12 hours.

The Baker Act in Florida, is an interesting concept. The limiting part is, that it’s only for a 72-hour evaluation and meds. Apparently, in many cases, according to case workers, that isn’t nearly enough, so many get “Bakerized” more than once. Obviously, the reason for part of that is due to the cost that the state can’t afford to pay, medical insurance won’t cover, and the average family can’t afford in costs to provide longer stays in a mental health facility.

The data didn’t say how many of these kids, when Bakerized, get violent when cops show up at their home, to take them away to get evaluated; probably the reason they use law enforcement rather than a social worker to take them to the mental health facility.

According to the Orlando Sentinel the success rate of the Baker Act is questionable, as the program seems to be a revolving door where folks come get evaluated and released and then are back after a bit of time, numerous times. One boy, was “Bakerized” 4 times and still ended up in juvenal jail for the threatening post he had posted online with a fake gun.

Of nearly 195,000 Floridians taken into custody for a Baker Act evaluation in fiscal year 2015-2016, the most recent data available, most were released with no follow-up. Miami-Dade County Judge Steve Leifman says that, statewide, less than 2 percent are ultimately deemed a danger to themselves or others and committed to mental hospitals.

The question that kept running through my mind as I researched this is, why are these kids having these mental health problems? Kids wanting to commit suicide in large numbers. Several thousand kids in one FL county alone. It boggles my mind. I truly do not understand.

What I noticed, from my research, was that the kids seem to come from middle class families, mostly white. Photos of where these kids live show that they seem to have everything, yet seem to lack something vital. Possibly something that’s been damaged in their brain, due to alcohol or drugs, or that didn’t form properly in their brain, thus causing this problem.

If not that, then what has changed so much since I was a kid in the 1950’s and 60’s where this sort of thing was pretty rare? I’m sure there were some kids like this, but my guess is, nothing like we’re seeing today. That means something in society, in general, has changed enough to cause these kids to have these problems.

One thing that might contribute is divorce. Divorce was not as common, in the 1950’s and 60’s, as it is now. In 1969 the courts allowed No Fault Divorce, and the divorce rate shot up tremendously. One spouse could divorce and the other had no say about it, they just ended up divorced. Most often it was the father who had no say, then got to pay child support and see his kids four days per month. This created the absentee Dad.

Boys lacking time with their dad, and living in a “female-oriented household” with no male role model could be a problem for the mental health of many boys.

Schools wanting boys to be more like girls and then punishing the boys for not being able to sit still as long as the girls and calling it ADD. Sure, there are actual ADD cases, but it wouldn’t surprise me that many are not, but simply a boy who will end up being a worker in the trades where he can move around and physically do stuff, and not be bound to a desk. Many schools have eliminated recess making it even more difficult for those boys to get through a long school day as they have no time, during the school day to burn off some of that energy.

Maybe we also need to take away the endless video gaming, texting, and phoning from these kids. Maybe Moms should rethink how fast they want to push their daughters into women hood. Girls today dress like adults and not like girls. Yea that sounds so old school, yet we didn’t have these problems back in the day. All schools should have a uniform, which would solve much of that. Parents need to stop being their child’s friend and be their parent. Kids need boundaries set by the parents.

Make your “YES” mean yes and your “no” mean no. Be consistent in how you do things. Your kids need to know you will follow through with whatever “consequence” you say will happen if they do something or don’t do something. This can be done in love and your actions should reflect that, because kids need direction, discipline, and love from you.

You don’t have to throw money at your kids, they don’t need Air Jordan sneakers or Kardashian clothes, they need you to be their parent, the adult or adults they can count on when times get tough. It’s not your job to be cool or hip. It’s your job to be your kids’ parent. Your children deserve no less.

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