When I was in elementary school corporal punishment was still tolerated. Boys who got into fights or who were continually disruptive faced the paddle. These days we take normal male behaviour, declare it to be a pathology and drug them into a stupor for the remainder of their school daze. According to this article in Psychology Today, we classify more students as ADHD than they do in France. They don’t, however, reach for the pill bottle.
French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children’s focusing and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child’s brain but in the child’s social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child’s brain.
We ended corporal punishment in school because it was considered ineffective and abuse. We have replaced it with chemical abuse whose long term consequences are unknown but I can’t help but think of school shootings and suicides. These drugs will alter a person’s brain chemistry for life. When they told me I should drug my oldest son because he was a class clown I told them to kick rocks. I addressed it at home and taught him to regulate his own behaviour. The mind that made him an outstanding athlete made it difficult for him to be an obedient, passive, sit still in your chair student the women educators so desperately craved.