Why 1960s Schoolchildren Were Subjected to Secret Drug Trials
School isn't always just a place to learn.
Files recently uncovered by the BBC found that adolescent, and "maladjusted," boys attending North Yorkshire's Richmond Hill Approved School in the 1960s were used as unwitting test subjects for drug trials.
The BBC reports on what went down at Richmond Hill:
"In a document dating from late 1967, Dr. JR Hawkings, a psychiatrist attached to Richmond Hill, wrote to the Home Office asking permission to conduct a drug trial on boys who were 'impulsive, explosive, irritable, restless and aggressive.' He wanted to give some of them a drug called Beclamide. The anticonvulsant, which has sedative effects and was prescribed for epilepsy, is no longer widely in use."
An "approved school" is the (antiquated, and at least on paper) happy medium between a juvenile prison and a boarding school. Children deemed uncontrollable pains in their parents' behinds would be sent to these institutions, which fell under the control of Britain's Home Office.
The author of the BBC investigation dug up no conclusive findings from the trial published in any medical or educational journals. And no evidence was located indicating that the boys' parents were ever informed of their sons' guinea pig status. Even more unsettling, Hawkings wasn't the only school psychiatrist experimenting with the malleable minds of 1960s British youth.
"This was a sister school to the better known Duncroft in Surrey, a small institution for girls of higher intelligence. In November 1968, Dr. Joyce Galbraith wrote to Dr Mason at the Home Office 'in strict confidence.'. . She said she was increasingly concerned about the tone of the school and unrest amongst the staff. To calm the situation, she suggested giving Haloperidol to every girl in the school, for 18 weeks."
On the basis of parents potentially freaking the f*ck out, the girls of Duncroft were reportedly spared any non-consensual consumption of Haloperidol––an antipsychotic medication still in use today.
The U.K. isn't the only place where schoolchildren ran the risk of being institutionally poisoned in the name of science.
In the documentary film, The Last Great Disgrace, a young–but-still–mustachioed Geraldo Rivera exposed horrific conditions at Willowbrook State School––a Staten Island mental institution that was feeding its often misdiagnosed child-patient-prisoners hepatitis-infected feces, or just injecting them with the disease directly.
And you thought your school lunch was bad.