Guest Blogs

“Ritalin Is Not the Cause of School Gun Violence”

ADHD expert Dr. William Dodson fires back at the assertion by Oliver North that Ritalin use by young men is at least partially to blame for the hundreds of children killed by gun violence in American schools since Columbine.

May 25, 2018

Last Sunday morning, I woke up to this headline: “Oliver North Blames School Shootings on Ritalin.”

It is hard to know where to start when there are so many outrageous and hypocritical statements crammed in together so closely. During his Fox News Sunday appearance, the controversial in-coming President of the NRA, Oliver North, blamed the combination of Ritalin and the “culture of violence” for the remarkable series of 22 school shootings thus far in 2018.

Specifically, he said, “And the disease in this case isn’t the Second Amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence… They’ve been drugged in many cases. Nearly all of these perpetrators are male… Many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten.”

This is a classic tactic of people who intentionally produce false news; they make two true statements with which reasonable people would agree and then insert a lie that would appeal to the extreme prejudice of the audience. North starts with the acknowledgement that there is a national culture of violence (for which the NRA is the chief apologist) and then adds that males are usually the perpetrators of such violence, which is also unarguably true. He then inserts the lie for which there is no evidence: that the medications used to treat ADHD were to blame for these senseless acts of violence.

The truth is that, without exception, all 26 available studies of “aggression” and ADHD medication show a dramatic DECREASE in aggressive behaviors when ADHD stimulant medications are used. Mr. North’s shameless and hypocritical shifting of the blame for the level of violence to our children can not be excused or allowed to pass unchallenged. To do so would allow them to be misunderstood, marginalized, and demonized more than they already are.