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CLEARWATER, Fla., Aug. 23, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Florida chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a non-profit mental health watchdog founded by the Church of Scientology and Dr. Thomas Szasz, has reached over 184,000 families in a campaign to stop the illegal Baker Acting and seizure of children in Florida. Educating families on their rights at hundreds of local events, CCHR also hosts free seminars delivered by a local attorney on the mental health law at their headquarters located in downtown Clearwater.
The mental health law in Florida, commonly known as the Baker Act, allows for the initiation of an involuntary psychiatric examination of anyone no matter their age and this includes children as young as two years of age.
“We receive calls on a weekly basis from the parents of children who have been Baker Acted without the parent’s knowledge,” said Diane Stein, President of CCHR Florida. “This is a violation of the rights of the child and the parent.”
Seen as a statewide crisis, 32,763 involuntary examinations were initiated on children during 2016-2017 according to a report recently released by the Baker Act Reporting Center. 
Taking action to stop this abuse, CCHR began educating families on their rights in 2016 and has reached over 184,000 families with information on the Baker Act as well as providing them with a form designed to help prevent unjust involuntary examination. The form, created by attorneys, makes it clear that the parent is not relinquishing their parental rights and also states that the parent is not giving permission for a psychiatric examination of their child for any purpose. This statement is based on Chapter 394.463 of the Florida Statutes, which reads as follows: "Without care or treatment, the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself; such neglect or refusal poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to his or her well-being; and it is not apparent that such harm may be avoided through the help of willing family members or friends or the provision of other services."
“The criteria for involuntary examination clearly allows for a parent or legal guardian to be given the opportunity to care for their child yet this fundamental right is being stripped away,” said Stein.
Concerned parents are encouraged to contact CCHR to learn more about their rights under the law at 800-782-2878 and to sign a petition asking Florida lawmakers to amend the Baker Act.
About CCHR: Initially established by the Church of Scientology and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, CCHR’s mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, first brought psychiatric imprisonment to wide public notice: “Thousands and thousands are seized without process of law, every week, over the ‘free world’ tortured, castrated, killed. All in the name of ‘mental health,’” he wrote in March 1969. For more information visit www.cchrflorida.org.
 Fiscal Year 2016/2017 Annual Report http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/samh/publications/The%20Baker%20Act%20-%20FL%20MH%20Act%20-%20FY%2016-17%20Annual%20Report%20-%20Released%20June%202018.pdf