Bill Would Require “Behavioral Health Assessment” of All Children

by Michael Ramey

Imagine if state law required that every 12, 14, and 17-year-old undergo a behavioral health assessment – an invasive and comprehensive “review of physical and mental health, intelligence, school performance, employment, level of function in different domains including family situation, and behavior in the community.” Imagine if the law required the assessment for every child, even if there have never been any indications of behavioral issues.

That is exactly the situation Connecticut parents – those who home school their children and those who send their kids to public school – will be facing if Proposed Bill 374 is adopted this session. Although the bill states that the test results will only be disclosed to the parents, the health care provider must submit a form to the State Board of Education verifying that the assessment has been completed.

Before dismissing this as a localized issue, the reader is urged to consider two things: First, if their fundamental parental rights are not enough to protect their children from such an intrusion, what are your fundamental parental rights worth?

Second, courts have already weakened the role that parents play in deciding whether their children face similarly invasive evaluations in the public schools in other parts of the country. The Ninth Circuit held in Fields v. Palmdale that “a psychological survey is a reasonable state action pursuant to legitimate educational as well as health and welfare interest of the state.” This is a parental rights issue; it is a liberty issue for all of us.

Every year lawmakers introduce legislation that would trample the right of parents to make decisions for their children. The Supreme Court once held that “[t]he statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.” Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979) Instead, today’s lawmakers quip that “If just one child can be saved, we have to pass this law.”

But is that correct? Are we getting better or worse at understanding the role of good law? It was an even older Court that wrote, “A desirable end cannot be promoted by prohibited means.” Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923)

The problem is, in too many states the violation of fundamental parental rights is not immediately recognized as prohibited means.

That is why states like Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri are taking up Parental Rights Acts that would preserve this fundamental liberty as a matter of state statutory law.

And it is why we are promoting the Parental Rights Amendment in the 113th Congress – to stop these intrusions all over the country.

As a matter of fact, it is not okay to violate the inalienable rights of countless Americans just because policy makers arrogantly believe that they, through government, can end all ills. We need to protect our children – but we need to do so in a manner that protects our (and their) liberties as well. Otherwise, we end up with a country safe, sterile, and enslaved.

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Michael Ramey is Director of Communications & Research at

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