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Frontline: The Medicated Child (2008)

Marcela Gaviria , Will Cohen  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Directors: Marcela Gaviria, Will Cohen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: March 4, 2008
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0013MOLQ8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,844 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Ten years ago, stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall were the drugs of choice to treat behavioral issues in children. Today children as young as four years old, are being prescribed more powerful anti-psychotic medications that are much less understood. The drugs can cause serious side effects and virtually nothing is known about their long-term impact.

The increase in the use of anti-psychotics is directly tied to the rising incidence of one particular diagnosis - bipolar disorder. Experts estimate that the number of kids with the diagnosis is now over a million and rising.

As the debate over medicating children continues to grow, Frontline confronts psychiatrists, reserachers, and government regulators about the risks and benefits of prescription drugs for troubled children.

DVD Special Feature: Discussion Guide

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the medicated child April 1, 2009
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This video was excellent. It broke my heart to witness the results of the bright-eyed little boy after being put on medication for the rest of his life. He stands out because you can see the results of many years of experimentation. We certainly like to play God, don't we. The Nazis had nothing on us when it comes to damaging the minds of our young. Who says that every child given us is supposed to fit into a certain mold. What if they do daydream, forget instructions, have fits,'s our job to train them, not medicate them. I guess we don't have time. This, of course, seems much quicker since we must rush off to our important business of the day. What right have doctors, teachers, or parents for that matter have to alter the entire personality of a person. I would like to see more of this type of documentation.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bitter Pill For All Of Us To Swallow April 16, 2011
Frontline presents a thoughtful and serious look at American society and the challenges of being a child (and a parent). Some reviewers want to instantly demonize doctors and the pharmaceutical industry. Sure, they have a major role here, but that is certainly not the whole story. As this important PBS documentary illustrates, the issues are many and interwoven.

First, we have a society that has become commoditized... got an ill, take a pill. Whatever life's issues, there's something we've got to buy to fix it. Second, it is interesting that "appropriate" childhood behavior is now defined in such narrow terms. If Tommy or Suzy is fidgety, rambunctious, or not focused 100% on the programmed activities teacher is required to present, then a clinical issue is assumed to exist. Third, where are the traditional outlets for kid's energy? Today, kids rarely play outdoors and schools offer few playtime activities or sports. Finally, if more parents were home and available to interact with their children, then assessing and perhaps intervening in their children's lives would improve. Were these basic conditions of child rearing better met, the perceived need for such medication would diminish dramatically.

As was made clear in this thought-provoking documentary, often, it's the parents who need help -- either education on parenting or some serious psychotherapy. We find ourselves in an era where kids can't be kids, where they have few outlets to express themselves freely, and where society is a bit too quick to reach for a pharmaceutical solution that often becomes a greater problem.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No simple answer July 15, 2012
Without trying to be, this is one of the most stomach-churning programs I've watched. It leaves you feeling utterly helpless in the face of enormous scientific and ethical complications. I understand the issues a lot better after watching this 60-minute program, but at the same time "understanding them better" just means realizing that there is no simple answer.

P.S. - All Frontline programs are available for free online, including this one. There is a Wikipedia page ("List of Frontline (PBS) episodes") with links to and brief descriptions of each.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "throwing pills at them" November 20, 2009
As a former psychiatric social worker, I can assure you that this episode of Frontline REALLY pushed my buttons! It made my heart ache for those children whose doctors are "throwing pills at them" (as one psychiatrist I knew, who shall go nameless, always used to put it) without knowing exactly what the efficacy of those pills are in the childhood population. These pills have been used to help adults with certain disorders including bipolar disorder; but it's not very responsible for doctors to simply prescribe powerful psychiatric medicines for children when there's such a paucity of research findings on their effectiveness in helping children. Yes, doctors want to help children in need; and I could see that most if not all of the children we meet in this film are indeed troubled in one way or another; but without enough research doctors are essentially merely groping in the dark for fast, easy answers as this program illustrates. On top of all this, there's the terrible roller-coaster parents must ride as they try to manage their children's unusual behavior and deal with the unpleasant side-effects of these powerful drugs; and that's very disturbing.

Frontline shows people on both sides of the fence; we meet one doctor who we see in session with the parents of a troubled boy who, at the age of six or seven at the most, has multiple psychiatric diagnoses and several prescription drugs to take each day--some of the drugs to help him but still more drugs to take away the unpleasant side-effects of the initially prescribed drugs! When the parent rather timidly asked the doctor if there was any other way to treat her son, the doctor confidently replied that the treatment would have to be "99%" prescription drugs.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good video for my Human Developmental class. October 20, 2013
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I really enjoyed the video and am using it for my class. Thank you for your quick response and if you can think of any other videos I could use, let me know.
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