Victorian principals have spoken out after their schools were targeted by an information campaign run by a group linked to the Church of Scientology.
Last week, the Australian office of the Citizens Committee on Human Rights – which was established by the Church of Scientology – sent material about the “psychiatric drugging of Australian children” to every principal in the state.
Principals were asked to show students a documentary which accuses the psychiatric industry of lying and says its practices are “killing our children, our families and our communities”.
The video also took aim at Beyondblue and its KidsMatter program in schools, which it described as a “mental disorder screening program" based on "subjective and arbitrary questions that any child could test positive for”.
“The material was nothing more than thinly-disguised propaganda warning people about the dangers of psychiatrists, antidepressants and ADHD medication,” he told The Educator.
“I was extremely disappointed with their less than upfront approach to this rather bizarre marketing exercise”.
He said that rather than being bold enough to take responsibility for the material, the Church of Scientology chose to “hide” behind what they call the Australian office of the Citizens Committee on Human Rights, on their brochure and pamphlets.
“You really had to search the small print to fish the Church of Scientology out as the promoters. That alone makes you wonder,” he said.
“School principals don't need this sort of devious approach and, might I add, dubious material land on their desks, by anyone, let alone a registered church.”
Meadowglen Public School principal, Loretta Piazza, received a copy of the DVD and an accompanying letter early in the week.
“When I read the title ‘Psychiatry: friend or foe?’ and further comments that make startling medical claims, it immediately raised alarm bells,” she told The Educator.
“Schools are captive audiences and often regarded as ‘easy targets’ therefore principals need to exercise their duty of care and be very vigilant regarding messages that are disseminated to students.”
Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino, encouraged principals to discard the materials sent by the Scientology group.
“Teachers and principals receive information sent to them from a wide variety of groups and organisations,” Merlino said.
“Principals are education professionals. We trust that they are able to choose correctly what information is useful for their school and I am confident this would be thrown in the bin.”