Children are being introduced to Scientology-funded programs in schools without even knowing it.
One school has even allowed the groups to hold a seminar, not realising who was really talking to the students.
Kindergartens across the country also recently received a strange 'information pack' in the mail.More stories from Today Tonight
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Catherine Waters, the director of Melbourne's JJ McMahon kindergarten, was concerned by the pamphlets.
"My initial response was to put it in the bin. So I started reading carefully through the accompanying literature and it wasn't really till I got to the last page that I realised there was a connection with the Scientology organisation," Waters said.
The kit included a warning to parents and a form for them to sign. The form was an exemption against health checks that are carried out on young children at school.
The information pack claims the health checks could lead to their children being prescribed mind-altering drugs.
"It's not something that I would suggest they exempt their child from, because if your child has difficulties, it's really important for their sake that it's identified as soon as possible," said Waters.
The group behind this information pack is the CCHR, or Citizens Commission on Human Rights.
"We don't have principals or office staff screening our mail, it's up to the teachers and sometimes the volunteer parents to sort out fact from fiction. And this is an area which, for me, is making life additionally difficult for those people," Waters said."I've just been incredibly disappointed by the lack of openness on behalf of this group because it has a severe impact on your ability to trust what you're receiving through the mail. I don't feel that they had our best interests at their heart."
The Government introduced the Healthy Kids Check in 2008 - it is funded by Medicare. The Federal Mental Health Minister has slammed the Scientology pack as factually wrong and misleading.
At Woodridge State High school, south of Brisbane, parents were stunned to learn 60 children attended a seminar run by a Scientology-funded group calling itself Youth for Human Rights.The group failed to declare that they were a Scientology-funded group.
"It's false representation isn't it," said one parent.
Another parent said, "I do not want any of my family involved in it whether it's my kids, my grandkids, my brothers and sisters. I don't want them involved."
A video was found online by the Youth for Human Rights groups that included senior Australian Scientologist, Luke Ayres, thereby confirming it was made by the Church of Scientology.Kevin Bates, the president of the Queensland Teachers' Federation is calling for regulations for schools to better check who they're letting inside school gates.
"There was no disclosure about the background of the group concerned or who was funding them, and now that information has been made available the school has taken steps to ensure that further contact with students isn't going to be an option," said Bates."It would be our view that there would be a place for some central regulation of these sorts of programs that are being introduced to schools to ensure that we do see in a school context that there are only those programs that are found to be free from outside influences that might be considered inappropriate in a school context," Bates said.
"I think the important thing is we should have disclosure."
Senator Nick Xenophon has for years exposed the abuses inside Scientology. He believes they are turning to these front groups because too many people now know the truth about Scientology.
"This is mean and sneaky and tricky and, above all, dangerous misinformation. That's why it must be stopped," said Senator Xenophon.
"The fact these jokers go on about human rights when I've seen so many people who been in the so-called Church of Scientology who've had their human rights abused, who've had their lives ruined, who have been ruined both emotionally and financially, and for them to be talking about people's human rights is really a cruel hoax."
Perhaps the most extraordinary tale told by Scientology is that its founder L Ron Hubbard is a great humanitarian equal in standing and achievement to Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and others.
"It just shows you how deluded these people are to be mentioning L Ron Hubbard in the same breath as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. It really is a sick joke," Senator Xenophon said.
What the CCHR claim:
That hijacking of the history of the holocaust was outlined by the President of the CCHR, long-time Scientologist Jan Eastlake."Psychiatrists set up the whole euthanasia campaign in the concentration camps, (The camps built by the Nazis during World War Two), they went into the concentration camps and they set it up and they decided who was going to be killed," Eastlake said.
The CCHR - the group campaigning to stop kindergarten children getting valuable health checks - claim the holocaust was organised and carried out by psychiatrists and there is no such thing as mental illness. The group was founded and is funded solely by Scientology.
When it comes to Human Rights, there are many examples of how Scientology has abused them. One example is that of Shane Kelsey.
As a child in Scientology in Sydney, Australia, he was forced to work 14 hours a day and paid as little as $4 a week when he was just 15 years old.
"You're not allowed to read any books other than Scientology books, you can't read newspapers, no radio, no movies, nothing," Kelsey said.
Reporter Bryan Seymour replies to the response from Scientology:"The CCHR has been condemned by mental health professionals in Australia and around the world. The stated mission of the CCHR is to achieve the "Global obliteration of Psychiatry" and the CCHR claims that psychiatrists are responsible for the Nazi Holocaust and the 911 attacks on the World Trade Centre.
"Youth for human Rights is one of several Scientology front groups set up to promote Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard as a great humanitarian.
"In Fact, L Ron Hubbard was a fraudster and a chronic liar who invented stories about himself as a war hero, healer and scientist. Detailed proof of the truth about L Ron Hubbard can be found here:www.newyorker.com
I believe my earlier responses cover most of your questions, so I am putting them here again with some further clarifications.
The Church of Scientology established and sponsors some fantastic, very effective social programs and through our generous financial contributions, they are able to provide educational materials for free in numerous languages. This includes drug education, which of course is entirely secular, and human rights, which is also entirely secular. We are engaged in charitable works far outside our Church membership. We engage in significant funding and volunteerism because we care that our fellow man can live a better life.
For example, Scientologists do not use street drugs and are concerned with the damage this wreaks in the lives of so many families who are beset with drug and alcohol problems. So we feel we need to do something about it. The government is already flat out providing services at great cost to the tax payer and we believe charitable organisations have a duty to do all they can to help.
It is to the Church's credit that we generously fund these programs, which have positive outcomes and help people from all walks of life. Their only aim is to help people make a better life. Nothing more. No matter what slant is falsely attributed to it.
That some intolerant individuals cannot bear to see even a benign community program being sponsored by Scientology is more the issue here. These programs are very effective, which makes the spurious complaints from the mouths of these bigoted individuals even more ridiculous.
It is a role of a church to help its community, outside of the ministering of religious services to its congregation. That is a fundamental function among many faiths and we believe that to help one’s self, you also have to help others. There are literally tens of thousands of people who have been able to talk to their children or work-mates about the issue of drugs and provide facts because of our sponsorship. Last year the Church funded a grant to print 50 million drug education booklets in 17 languages, which is a staggering figure.
On our Church website we list all of the programs that we fund, right on our home page, and each links to a fuller description and video. Tens of thousands of volunteer hours are given by our members around the world and you can see this here:
How much clearer can we make this, Bryan?
Youth for Human Rights:
A quick Google search for "Youth for Human Rights" shows Wikipedia as the 3rd search result. It details who established the program and that the Church sponsors it. It is widely known and information readily available. It is wide open.
That the Church sponsors Youth for Human Rights (which was started by a South African educator) does not make the human rights education program itself religious any more than the Salvation Army sponsoring drug rehabilitation makes that activity religious, when it is not. There is no Scientology at all in these materials.
It is a great educational program, and the material in their program consists solely of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Possibly you are not familiar with the materials, so I have provided a link so you can watch one or two of the community ads:
It is absolutely not feasible to list all of the sponsors of the DVDs on the DVD cover. Thus the sponsorship information is placed on the Australian website which you can see here:
Youth for Human Rights fliers have the Church of Scientology sponsorship listed at the bottom of the flier because that printing was from Australian parishioners. Earlier versions were paid for by different businesses and their sponsorship was also placed on the flier.
As an important issue, no movie producer in any country that I know of is required to list their religious affiliation on the DVD cover either. Taron Lexton is the director of the human rights DVD and he is an award winning cinematographer and director. To require such religious labels is discriminatory and harkens back to very dark days. Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Hindu organisations sponsor many programs, and they are not demanded to label all of their sponsorships with their religious affiliation. So why is this expected of Scientologists?
Youth for Human Rights is widely used around the world by law enforcement bodies, human rights groups, educators, parents, etc. Youth for Human Rights are their own secular organisation composed of volunteers from all races, creeds and walks of life. Scientologists volunteer also, as do people of Jewish and Christian faith, Muslims also use these program materials as do atheists.
The Church worked with the late psychiatrist Dr Thomas Szasz to establish the Citizens Commission on Human Rights in 1969. Dr Szasz was Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the State University of New York Health Science Centre in Syracuse, New York. CCHR is proud to have worked alongside Dr Szasz and of their efforts to introduce human rights into the practice of psychiatry and reform a number of questionable and degrading practices.
The founding of CCHR by the Church of Scientology is on the front page of their website, it is on the Church’s website, it is on every letter that CCHR mails out – it is literally plastered everywhere. I don’t know how it can be made any more clear. Being the 2nd line on their letterhead is entirely sufficient for this medium, as a letter is but one page of paper. Since a website affords more space, there is of course are larger summary of this online.
See these links on CCHR’s site and the Church’s site:
CCHR has an impressive human rights record. It was responsible for exposing the degrading and illegal treatments at Chelmsford and Townsville psychiatric hospitals and the establishment of Royal Commissions that followed. At the time of its formation, the victims of psychiatry were a forgotten minority group, warehoused under terrifying conditions in institutions around the world. Because of this, CCHR penned a Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights that has served as its guide for mental health reform.
Today, CCHR is a worldwide organisation actively working to eliminate brutal treatments, criminal practices and human rights abuses in the field of mental health. It has been responsible for helping to enact more than 150 laws protecting individuals from abusive or coercive practices in the field of mental health. It works with psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, law makers, artists, educators and human rights advocates who work to bring about improved human rights in mental health.
CCHR Letter you refer to:
While this is not our area of expertise, this expresses a concern voiced by many senior medical experts and has been widely reported on in the Australian media. If the Minister of Mental Health has clarified these issues, then that is a positive move.
In Australia, children are being prescribed antidepressants which are not approved for use in children under 18 by both the federal government and the drug manufacture themselves. Yet there were 26,605 kids aged 2-16 taking these drugs with 1,264 prescribed such drugs under the age of 6. This comes with it a range of serious side effects.
Experts have expressed considerable concern about widespread child screening:
Professor Allen Frances who chaired the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM, the main manual used to diagnose "mental disorders" in Australia) was extremely critical of the Healthy Kids Check while visiting Australia last year. He said that "accurately predicating mental illness in 3 year olds is simply impossible. Toddlers have tremendous individual variability as to when they talk, walk, toilet train and meet emotional and behavioural milestones. An effort to pick up one truly high-risk child will doubtless mislabel a dozen or two who aren't. This is intrusive, stigmatising and worrying. It will distort parenting and may lead to harmful interventions. Further, Frances called the check a “dangerous national experiment" which is "really experimenting with kids wholesale."www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-11/expert-warns-against-child-mental-health-checks/4064474
The concern of many experts is clear when the example of New Zealand's wide spread child mental health screening is examined:
To quote from this:
"Since 2008, Plunket, doctors, mobile clinics and home visits have screened more than 100,000 four to five year-olds for health, behavioural, social and developmental problems.
"In the same period, Pharmac figures show a 140 per cent increase in antidepressant prescriptions for 0 to 4-year-olds between 2009 and 2010, and an average 10 per cent increase in mood-stabilising drug prescriptions in the last five years for children aged five and over."
If you choose to go ahead with this piece please include my full response, above, on your website.
Kind regards,Sei Broadhurst
Church of ScientologyMore information
- Scientology & Human Rights - the truth - www.1888pressrelease.com
- Senator Nick Xenophon in the Australian Senate on Scientology - www.youtube.com
This reporter is on Twitter at @BryanSeymour1