A California Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Tuesday for and against a bill that would allow a mental health professional to place a child as young as 12 in a residential shelter facility without parental knowledge or consent and without there being any prior allegations of incest or child abuse.
Assembly Member Wendy Carrillo said she was proud to present AB 665 to expand access to mental health care for young people as communities face a mental health crisis, but Erin Friday, attorney and co-founder of parent group Our Duty, called the bill “state-sanctioned kidnapping.”
Family Code 6924, enacted in 2010 by former Governor Schwarzenegger, gave children 12 and over the ability to access mental health counselling without parental consent, but its requires that there be an allegation of abuse or a risk of serious harm before a counsellor can unilaterally send a child to a residential facility.
Friday explained that the intent of 6924 was to prevent suicides, specifically among LGBTQ youth, but cited CDC statistics to show that in the years since 6924 came into effect, the suicide rate for age 10- to 14-year-olds has soared.
“Instead of repealing the failed law, the response is to place even more power in the hands of counsellors, to remove children form their loving families,” said Friday, who then gave an example of the type of counsellor to whom such power would be given.
“An example of the calibre of counsellors who decide if a 12-year-old comes home from school is Kenna Cook, who has access to the kids at Davis Unified [School District]. She held a BDSM group called Slaps Giving; she authored blogs: ‘How to be a better butt slut’.”
“Twelve is the age that California can steal the rights of parents and hand over mental health decisions to a child, or worse, a pervert,” Friday concluded.
Kenna Cook is described in a Facebook post as a "pansexual, kink and polyamory-friendly, fierce femme and sex-positive parent." She is also a community health worker and sex-ed teacher for CommuniCare Health Centers, which offers “affirming services for Yolo County’s LGBTQ+ community.” One such service is the Free Binder Project, promoted to girls aged 12-26 in the Yolo County region. Adolescent girls seeking to flatten their chests using one of the dangerous chest compression devices provided by the service are assured that the binder will be “mailed discreetly” to their home or a safe location for pick up.
Carrillo spoke of the “new reality” young people are experiencing, one of mass shootings, fentanyl overdoses, and social media bullying. She quoted CDC statistics indicating that 60 percent of teenage girls feel persistent sadness and loneliness and stressed the need to “shift the stigma” around mental health and make it easier for young people using Medicaid to get help.
In Carrillo's view, therapists and the government are better placed than parents to deal with difficulty that arises in children's lives.
In her opposing testimony, Friday said that AB 665 goes much further than just expanding Medicaid coverage for minors seeking mental health services. She stated that the bill greatly expands the power of a counsellor with regard to residential facilities.
"This bill permits a counsellor to decide if a child 12 or older is mature enough to be placed in a facility away from his parents without any claim of abuse or indication that the child is in danger," said Friday.
"This bill is state-sanctioned kidnapping," she said.
"I was extremely disturbed by council woman Wendy Carrillo's disingenous statement that there was bipartisan support for her bill ten years ago," Friday said in a statement to The Post Millennial. "The democrats tried and failed ten years ago to pass a bill that gave mental health counselors power to send a child to a residential facility without a claim of abuse or serious harm to the child."
"The 2010 bill signed into law required those minimum claims. Not one council person questioned her about htat fact, despite us raising it," Friday added. "I truly believe that the democrats knew exactly what they were doing, hiding undeer the cloak of equity to further trample on parental rights."
The committee voted 7-2 in favour of the bill.
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