January First?

July 22, 2009 at 10:23 am 50 comments


The LA Times did a story on a 6 year old girl named January Schofield who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia–a shockingly uncommon age for an already uncommon diagnosis. The reporter, Shari Roan had an interesting take on the story, but what was even more striking was what she chose to omit.

The father, Michael, is a writer and has a blog detailing his life with a supposedly schizophrenic child. In brief, he admits to some horrifying behavior in the way of parenting and if this child is excessively violent, it doesn’t seem as though you’d have to go far to find the root of the problem.

“…We tried starving her. We did EVERYTHING we could to try and break her…at times Susan and I both lost it and hit Jani as hard as we could. We hit in impotent rage…We saw Janni today and she was at her most psychotic in several weeks. I have a nice welt on my arm where she hit me when I refused to call her toy rat “99.”Of course, I was goading her, but I wanted to see if she could deal with it. Of course, she couldn’t”

He later removed from his blog the part about starving her , oddly leaving the hitting in. He also appears to have gone from doctor to doctor until he got the diagnosis he wanted which now gives him carte blanche to administer an alarming amount of drugs to her including high doses of Thorazine and Haldol.

Children are complex and I don’t think you can take all of the undesirable behaviors of a child, find one cause, label it and medicate it away. It’s harder but I think you have to treat each behavior as its own action. Encourage imagination even if you don’t understand it, treat violence as violence, develop social skills even as social structure is questioned.

I urge you to read the story and the later commentary regarding it on both Furious Seasons (scroll down to it) and The Trouble with Spikol. That for me is where it gets particularly interesting and ugly. A number of readers on both of these sites are quick to defend the parents and condemn people for rushing to judgement. I have to wonder where we are as a society if we are not willing to judge people based on their actions. I don’t think we need reasons or mitigating factors here. We’re talking about adults hitting a six year old with all of their strength and starving her, talking about breaking her, referring to themselves as staff when they are in her presence, the list goes on. Some things are always wrong.

Upon being asked by a reader how Shari Roan could have written this story but omitted the abuse that both parents admit to she said, among other things:

“They have also hit due to sheer exhaustion and loss of self-control…I am certain this is not the case of a normal child who has been abused. This child has a horrible mental illness that has destroyed her and her parents.”

This sounds a lot like this supposed mental illness in some way makes January’s abuse more acceptable or understandable. “This is not the case of  a normal child that has been abused.” No, of course not, you’re not allowed to abuse “normal” children. I am not saying The Schofields are horrible, loveless people through and through. I do not know them. I am simply saying that they have abused their own child (prior to the diagnosis, if that makes a difference) in a manner that may have gotten her removed for her own safety if she were not labeled with schizophrenia. If we can’t judge people, may we always at least judge actions.

I have to believe it’s a statement about how we view people who are diagnosed as mentally ill. Treat them as you wish, you will not be held accountable. If we are to accept the notion, and I do not, that mental illness is a type of biological disease like cancer or epilepsy, then standards of care should be universal. I know of no disease that is routinely treated punitively and no sickness that makes it more tolerable for this to happen, if anything, less so seems to be the trend.


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  • 1. treyci  |  July 22, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    wow. that is purely appalling. under no circumstances should you ever starve or hit a child with all your might. that is absolutely barbaric. i feel terrible that poor child is living the way she is. and if she does, in fact, have a serious mental disorder – i am sure that starvation and physical abuse are not the optimal methods of treatment. she needs to be properly taken care of and hopefully, give the right types of care and therapy, they can find a solution for her issues – regardless of whether or not they are, in fact, schizophrenia. wow.

    • 2. L. Balentine  |  June 15, 2010 at 3:08 am

      You should watch their story before you judge them! It is easy for you and others to say what they should and shouldn’t do, but to see the footage of Janni and how she feels you just might have more compassion for her parents and her little brother who the parents have had to protect from his violet sibling. Also Janni is 7 years old and talks about killing herself and others. She rarely sleeps and NEVER has even as an infant she would stay awake for sometimes up to 24 hours or longer. This would wear on anyone’s ability to be rational and think clearly. She has also had many periods of in patient care at the hospital, her parents have given up regular jobs and rent two seperate apartments just to care for their children. Each apartment set up to best care for each child individually.
      Do NOT judge this couple unless you have lived as they have to. You say their treatment of Janni is wrong, yet you don’t know what they have gone through and that the help available to them is limited due to the rareness and severity of Janni’s illness. Research more and watch footage of their lives, you just might change your mind!

      • 3. abellve  |  June 16, 2010 at 11:19 am

        I’ve watched their story — their telling, the footage, I’ve read it in their own writings. It doesn’t change a thing. I’ve said it before but those among you who want to excuse child abuse and all the rest of it based on how hard it must be for the parents don’t listen. You keep presenting this idea that if I knew just a little bit more about it, the beating and the starving wouldn’t seem so bad, the over-drugging and the camera-whoring would make so much more sense. I don’t have to live the parents’ life to excuse things any more than you should have to have been abused to know it’s wrong. Nothing they’ve gone through, no lack of options can excuse some of their behavior and if she were autistic, developmentally challenge or had no diagnosis at all they wouldn’t have been able to get away with it much less capitalize on it with their carefully filtered television appearances and now a book deal. Since she’s diagnosed as seriously mentally ill, anything goes. Agree or disagree with my what I’m saying but it’s not born of ignorance or a lack of information.

  • 4. Leah  |  July 22, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Thank you for speaking out on this issue, Aaron.

    You are a bigger person than I as I DO judge the parents. Perhaps that is because I am a parent myself of a young child who is VERY spirited and intense. If my son was having difficulties I would never pathologize him. I would move heaven and earth to find support for him and for me as a parent that did not violate his bodily and emotional dignity, or interfere with the mother-child bond.

    I can’t comprehend how a parent could refer to himself as “staff.” It is so dehumanizing. I’ve not been able to write much about Jani and her family because it is just so disturbing to me. We must do all we can to build a world where this is not allowed to happen to children.

  • 5. abellve  |  July 22, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Oh no, Leah, I’m not bigger by an inch. I judge them. There is no perspective from which this is not wrong. I see people stand in their defense, applaud their honesty or point out other kinder moments and it blows my mind. Shari Roan said in the previously quoted message, “That is disconcerting, but it is also noble on their part to be honest.” Are you kidding me, nobility in being honest about abusing your child?
    We have gotten so collectively weak. We are not willing to hold to any absolutes or condemn anybody. We’ve gotten to the point where the only thing that’s wrong is to tell someone they’re wrong.
    I too have had trouble tackling this. Words are truly not enough. I’ve tried and tried and everything seems inadequate to even touch on what a bothered mind I’ve had about this child.

    • 6. Sarah  |  September 20, 2010 at 12:09 am

      I know these are old posts but I am just now reading. You are so well spoken, everything you say about this situation is true. Since watching the documentary I have been completely haunted by this precious little girl. I watched the documentary in complete horror, bawling for this child who is clearly being taken advatage of and abused in the most terrible way. Others watch and think the parents are heros (I read the comments on some youtube videos) and there is so much praise for them and people defending them. What is wrong with this world that people are blind to this atrocity?

      • 7. abellve  |  September 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm

        Thanks for reading. Old posts, new posts…if it’s still going on in the world, it’s still current and relevant so I’m just glad people are reading. There have been a couple of news stories covering Jani’s story…well, part of it anyway. Sadly, no one is acknowledging the abuses. I can understand comments in their favor from people who only see the filtered versions but I see so many comments excusing the starvation and beatings themselves. Disturbing.
        There’s a world out there that is in need of a drastic change. First though, we have to acknowledge the need.

  • 8. KHorn  |  August 4, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    The strange thing about this for me is even though most mental disorders in the DSM are characterized by vague generalities, I thought Schizophrenia could be diagnosed in a more definitive way.

    • 9. abellve  |  August 4, 2009 at 3:49 pm

      For better or worse, no. Just like the rest it’s a vague group of behaviors without any biological indicators. One psychiatrist sees bipolar with acute psychosis, another schizophrenia. It gets especially sketchy with kids. A six year old with an imaginary friend is usually regarded as imaginative, a thirty year old with an imaginary friend is that other thing.

      • 10. KHorn  |  August 6, 2009 at 7:16 pm

        “a thirty year old with an imaginary friend is that other thing.”

        I’ve been trying very hard to resist the urge to make a religious joke here.

  • 11. abellve  |  August 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I think you failed. Ha. It is certainly interesting to think of the unproven and arguably unreasonable things that are deemed acceptable while denouncing others as delusions. You can’t prove or disprove 99 the Rat anymore than Jesus or reincarnation. I choose the path of allowing everyone to believe what they want. It’s not up for my approval.

  • 12. Bri  |  October 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Your all retarded. I’m sure if you spent 1 day with them you would understand what it is like to handle a mentaly I’ll child you would run

    • 13. abellve  |  October 10, 2009 at 9:49 am

      Unlike Michael Schofield, who deletes all comments that are not in praise of his parenting, I welcome divergent opinions and will leave this up. That said, even as you disagree, you should learn to speak with more respect and a better understanding. Also, if you’re going to throw around certain names trying to insult someone’s intelligence, it’s “you’re” not “your” and so on, but I digress. That’s not important here. Moving on to what is…

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, for an adult to hit a 6 year old child with all of his or her strength and starve them is always going to be wrong. It’s wrong whether or not the child is troubled or troubling, mentally ill or the rarest kind of unmanageable. There are no mitigating circumstances that can excuse it or soften the blow or make it more understandable.

      Who are you to say what we’d understand or do if we spent one day with them and who are you to say who does or does not know what it is like to “handle” a mentally ill child? You are assuming that anyone who would dare object to Jani’s abuse has had no personal experience with extreme states of mind and behavior. My knowing certain things are wrong is not born out of ignorance, but despite your assumptions you wouldn’t know that because you, presumably, don’t know me. Many of us are directly affected by “mental illness” in our own lives and the live of the people we love and we run toward them not away. Why do you think we are so outspoken about the rights and respect of people diagnosed with mental illness? We have a cultural climate that excuses virtually all abuse against people deemed ill. It really is this simple — harming the people around you, and especially those entrusted to your care, is inexcusable and no less so if that person is deemed “mentally ill.”

  • 14. anon  |  October 10, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    I found out about this on Liz Spikol’s site also.
    They now have a Hollywood AGENT! for this kid.
    I tried to reply on the dad’s blog but got shouted-down and deleted.
    They have a new site also-sorry I cannot find the url.
    Paul Peterson, a child actor has an organisation that has fought very hard most recently for the Octomom children and the Gosselin children, about children’s rights. Its called “A minor Consideration.”
    I emailed him asking for HELP for Jani.
    Another (dleted of course) comment that I left on the januaryfirst.org weblog, was, How are they getting away with the HIPAA violations??
    (privacy act).
    Especially since a diagnoses of mental illness enhances privacy rights.
    The dad has also stated on his (old) blog that he “always knew she would be famous”.
    They also seem to think that she is incurable, that she will always be “ill”.
    If that’s so, (and no I do not believe that she even is “ill”, just abused and mistreated horribly), anyone with common sense would have to also think-ahead and wonder if one would want all the details about that illness posted online for anyone to see!!!!????

    • 15. Ann  |  October 14, 2009 at 2:56 am

      where can i find the father’s blog?

      • 16. abellve  |  October 14, 2009 at 8:44 am

        His original blog is (HERE)

    • 17. abellve  |  December 8, 2009 at 8:33 am

      Hollywood agent? That sounds about right. Good point about the privacy act too.. And as to the permanence of her “illness”, I have to wonder if this child is ever going to see a day off of medicine. Are they ever going to try to see what an older Jani is like or just Jani-on-antipsychotics? Even if it’s not a brain disorder but some kind of response to what’s going on around her, there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that a psychotic break is or can be episodic

  • 18. anonymous  |  October 13, 2009 at 2:11 am

    i don’t think it’s a good idea to judge the parents because i think they are excellent parents. i would like to see if she were you schizophrenic child, and i would like to see you handle her with the most intelligent care…you sound very ignorant tome and you are only commenting from a spectator’s point of view. what they meant when Jani was at their outmost psychotic which michael blogged about anyway he has nothing to hide, is that she was absolutely out of control and was asking them to call her with a different name. i am sure the parents thought they had lost their child and were trying to get her back…YOU CANNOT JUDGE THEM unless you have beenn in their shoes. i would like to challenge you and actually care for Jani yourself, i want to see you do a better job than jani’s parents. and instead of dedicating a blog to cristicize them you should take the same amount of time to say a prayer for Jani to heal, until then find a better toic to fool around with, this one is a sensitive one.

  • 19. abellve  |  October 13, 2009 at 11:22 am

    For what it’s worth, I’m glad you took the time to write this. I think this dialogue is an important one. Is your opinion of them as excellent parents as baseless as mine, just a “spectator’s point of view” or do you have some greater insight? That is a sincere question.
    I can understand your criticism of me as ignorant or unsympathetic if you mistakenly think I see myself as having all the answers but I freely admit that I don’t. I’m sure if I were a parent, I’d make mistakes and fail as I’d imagine all parents do at times. I am equally sure that I would never do a lot of what they’ve done. I don’t have it in me to starve and beat up on a child. I’m glad I don’t and I will not approach abuse with sympathy and understanding. No perceived mental illness can excuse it.
    I don’t have a blog dedicated to criticizing them. Only two out of forty-two posts address the Schofields. I have a blog dedicated to an effort to ensure the rights, dignity and respect of people labeled mentally ill. I have a blog dedicated to the idea that in a supposedly civilized world, damaged and often fragile people should be protected from abuse instead of having abuses against them protected as some sort of necessary evil. I’m speaking up for Iman Morales, Ray Sandford, Esmin Green and unnamed thousands of Chinese dissidents, and yes, Jani.
    While we can agree I am not a perfect person, we will have to disagree on when child abuse is tolerable or understandable. I say never. You’ll notice I’m not on here giving parenting tips. I’m condemning abuses across the board — and no, I don’t have to be in their shoes to do that. No more than I have to be in the shoes of the countless others causing harm to the people in their care to say that harm is wrong.
    This for me is not a “topic to fool around with” but a sincere struggle to change perceptions and our complacency toward deliberate harm. You’re damn right it’s a sensitive topic. I think sensitive topics like abuse, stigma and acceptance of harm need to be addressed, not swept under the rug. Literally millions of people are depending on it.

  • 20. Sam  |  December 7, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Wow. Just found out about Jani’s story. My personal thoughts are that her father is a huge problem in her life. He talks too much. He seems to enjoy the attention, seems more then eager to talk, talk talk. From just watching Oprah’s show I could strongly sense that this man was almost ‘enjoying’ the attention talking about his daughter brought him. He gives me the ‘creeps’. I’ve hard of ‘Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome’ and this guy seems a good canditate. I’m not saying the little girl doesn’t have some mental issues – she does NOW. When the parents said something about how they noiticed her staring at things as an infant and already thought something was wrong when she did that – THAT had my attention. All babies do that – it’s how they focus and learn. The father seems to be a huge part of this child’s problem, maybe the mom too, but this man is loving the attention he is getting.

  • 21. Kathy Shepherd  |  January 13, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I think people are quick to judge others before they really know all the facts. Having experience with this condition in my own family I understand. Forgive the ignorance of those who have NEVER had to deal with such terrible demons that lies in these poor souls. One will do anything it takes if they truly thought it may somehow help with any type of shock factor or reality check to help keep them in the ” now world”. The true content of the facts are not discussed and those of you that have formed a harsh opinion of this family…shame on you…..may you never experience what this family has gone through and support them in their efforts to help their daughter.

    • 22. abellve  |  January 14, 2010 at 9:12 am

      You may disagree but how don’t you people understand? The added facts, what leads to it, the parents’ troubles don’t excuse harming a child. Sometimes it’s good to be quick to judge. Some things are always wrong and all that time is just spent finding a way to justify it. Shame on me? Shame on anyone who takes up the side of someone abusing their child. If I should ever find myself in their shoes, rest assured — I won’t turn to beating and starvation and look for people to justify it for me. Where do you get the idea that we must either support all of their actions or we are ignorant to the situation? You know plenty of people have dealt with the same things you and they have and still don’t excuse child abuse, right? Millions have been harmed and yes, people I know and love, thanks to the idea that it’s somehow justified or understandable if they’re deemed mentally ill. It’s seen as a necessary evil to treat the “severely mentally ill” as less than human. That is not okay with me.

  • 23. Kathy Shepherd  |  January 15, 2010 at 12:23 am

    I completely understand. Facts ….whats facts? I do not live in their home nor do any of us actually can really say if any harm has be done to this poor child. I absolutely do not justify harming or abusing any child or mentally ill person….its not okay with me either. Your missin the point. Were you there? Did you see this abuse happen? I think ignorance of those who are quick to judge without really knowing FACTS should be ashamed of themselves.
    Mental illness is a cruel and terrible affliction that never has just one answer or one treatment. Many families have suffered terribly
    and it has caused deep heartache for all those concerned. I truly believe that our country needs better care for “the way too many”
    people suffering from mental illness that live out on our streets with no meds or help to keep them from hearing those demons in their heads…the voices are constant Some sing out loud to drown out the noise in their heads. Trust me…we both have strong feelings and feel the same way about no excuse for any type of abuse is okay….Neither one of us has walked in their shoes to know what transpired. These are parents doing the best they can
    with their challenging situation. May they continue to find strength in their balltle to help their daughter.

  • 24. abellve  |  January 16, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    “Facts ….whats facts? I do not live in their home nor do any of us actually can really say if any harm has be done to this poor child.”

    Someone can — Michael Schofield — and he did. That’s the point and that’s what I’m addressing.

    “Were you there? Did you see this abuse happen?”

    No abuse happens behind closed doors, right? No one can speak against a worldwide problem unless they were in every home in which abuses happen?

    As for better care and better options, we are most certainly in agreement that we are beyond lacking. Unlike many, and I’m not implying this means you, I’m not willing to settle for abuses and poor care while we wait for improvements. As long as we (the general “we”) accept abuse and mistreatment as care and people are getting away with it, there’s no incentive to bring these improvements about. Let’s take abuses out of our arsenal, see what’s left and attack problems, not people.

    “These are parents doing the best they can
    with their challenging situation”

    I’m not convinced that some of what happened to Jani is anybody’s “best” and while I know no one seeks or needs my approval, neither do I seek or need anyone else’s to speak up when i think it’s called for. He’s the one who said they hit her out of rage and starved her. It’s not some random hearsay and if he didn’t want to be framed as an abuser, he shouldn’t have painted himself as one. I do believe in righting our own wrongs and I truly hope for Jani’s sake they find not only strength but wisdom, options and direction.

  • 25. Josephine Matias  |  May 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Hi! I have a very long story growing up with a sister Ida that had schizo. It was a nighmare all of my life and my adopted parents! My parents LOVED HER LIKE YOU HAVE WITH JANUARY, but in in the 1960s no one could tell us what was wrong!! In the end from time to time she was instituited, too! It hurt me & my parents, but we felt safe, because she wanted to kill my parents & other stuff. She passed away 15 yrs ago and I was able to finish a BA & Now I’m completing a MA Degree as English elementary school teacher. When I saw January she opened old wounds I tryed to put on a shelf. Like I told you I was adopted , but my brother found a sister and she was Instituded All of her life. I wished to GOD that none of my sisters would be like my sister. Everyday, there was drama and I was on the side. I later comprehended what was going on . I thought she was LOVED More even til this Day! My adopted parents are 95 yrs. old (DAD) and MOM is 91 yrs. old. I’m here on the Island Of PR because they gave it their ALL with US. I have to let them pass on in their house.

    If you need to hear my Life story with a sister with Schizo…. let me know.

    Good Luck !! You need God in your Life to go on! iT HELPS , TOO!

    Josephine M.

    PS I’ve never told anyone my Life, but my Hubby & 3 daughters. Yes, they saw some of her violence, but I had to keep her out of my life. Yes, to have a normal life, but that still never happens.

  • 26. Josephine Matias  |  May 8, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    My sister started as young as January and I remember that day! I was playing dolls and she didn’t want to dress the doll. Her faced changed to anger because I told her to dress the doll. Ida never dressed the doll. I told my what had happened and she was like 6 yrs. old and I was five. Yes, I can remember that far back because I always had to find a friend to play with.

  • 27. Carl W. Goss  |  May 9, 2010 at 2:54 am

    I agree there is something strange about the parent’s behavior. Don’t know what it is, could be they are exploiting her in some way, but it could be that they are at their wit’s end. I don’t even ’em. On the other hand January is ill, there’s no question about that.

  • 28. Rachael  |  May 18, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    I came to this story over you tube. When I first watched the very first video I found something, just didn’t look right at all! So, I got this feeling and I went looking into the story more. And sure enough I found out that nothing about this story is right! Yes okay fine this child has some problems. And if everyone one of us went to a therapist about our “problems” (in my opinion) we would all be on some kind of medication. It just how this crazy world is. And I really disagree.

    What this child needs is not drugs like someone said on here the Father went around to every doc until he found “the one” that could say she needed all the meds. What this girl needs is to be taken away from her parents, and into a loving caring family that can take care of her in the way she needs. Not one that will punish her for something she has no control over, it isn’t right nor fair for her!! And I don’t care how her father tries to act like he was just expressing his feelings….well if you ask me if that is how he feels about his own child than he should be the one on drugs not her! And for the mother I can’t even start on her! You know I have no kids “given” but I even know has one female to another, that is not how you act with a child! THIS IS WRONG AND IT SHOULD BE STOPPED BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!!

    I just pray that this little girl gets the real help that she really needs. And thank you for making this know to the world people need to see this…so that one day maybe enough of us together or the right one can find her some real help.

  • 29. Kassie  |  July 12, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    I feel like they are parents who are trying to just deal with this illness. He was stating that they tried everything, exhausted anything that MIGHT help. They were desperate, and lonely in their struggle.

    You don’t have to agree with their methods, but you cannot blame them for her illness or need to try to help her by any means necessary.

    • 30. abellve  |  July 16, 2010 at 8:27 am

      “…you cannot blame them for her illness or need to try to help her by any means necessary.”

      Right, any means necessary. Starvation and violence are never necessary means. The problem with the current mental health system as a whole is that it is dehumanizing in its nature and as long as we say that if someone has a mental illness all bets are off and any abuses done to them can be considered “necessary means” to some sort of recovery or at least control, everyone with a diagnosis has reason to fear…and just because you’ve “exhausted anything that MIGHT help”, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to do things that can only harm.

  • 31. LovePeace  |  September 1, 2010 at 2:42 am

    It’s apparent Jani is possessed/oppresses by evil spirits. The evil thoughts and behaviour such as killing others and herself is not evil the result of mental illness. The dad is too stubborn to take her to a pastor to be prayed over. It’s really sad because his doubt in Jesus is making his family go through this when it doesn’t have to be this way.

  • 32. Jackie  |  September 5, 2010 at 10:29 am

    I have read about this story, watched the shows/videos and read the father’s blog. There is more to this than the parents (at least the father) is portraying. There doesn’t seem to be any denying that Jani has some issues but the scope and depth of these issues is in serious question for me. The father seems to be quite neurotic and controlling and neither parent seem able to distinguish between normal behavior and abnormal behavior. It is almost like they are encouraging Jani to be ill. I wonder how ill Jani really is and how much of what Jani does is a manifestation of what her parents encourage and what they create by their own neurosis.

    I don’t think I am alone in noticing this, I think the interns, the doctors, the therapists have all arrived at this conclusion themselves from reading the father’s blog. I fear for this little girl, but not really because of the mental illness she may have, but because her parents are so severely ill equipped to deal with it to the point where they may be causing and encouraging symptoms of something that may not have existed or not have existed with such severity.

  • 33. Jackie  |  September 5, 2010 at 10:36 am

    They have two short video clips up in the blog section showing Jani at the therapist. She had gotten ahold of a window key and was saying she was going to cut her hand off. The mother stood videotaping while the child made motions of cutting her wrist. Important to note, the mother never once asked the child for the key, she just continued videotaping. The receptionist asked for the key back and the child promptly gave it back without a fuss.

    What parent who believes their child is having a psychotic episode would just stand by and videotape that child trying to cut their wrist (if they really believed she was serious)????? Either they do not believe she is serious or they have a completely inappropriate way of dealing with their child’s illness. Not once did the mother ask the child to hand over the key but as soon as the receptionist did, it was immediately given to her by Jani. The rest of the short clip consisted of the mother suggesting that Jani do something else – so neurotic was the tone of voice and so frantic it is hard to believe that these parents are not contributing to their daughters behavior.

  • 34. jannette reyes  |  September 22, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    i just wanna say i just finished watching this little girls story on discovery health and was touched by her. she has no control over this illness nor can help the things she does. i was also very touched by her fathers will to keep her out of the hospital and home with him.i feel alot of parents would think a hospital would be better for the child. may God bless u all.

  • 35. Nadine  |  October 24, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    For all of you people supporting Jani’s parents, try replacing the word “schizophrenia” with “CEREBRAL PALSY” and think about how you would react. Would you be so compassionate if he was beating and starving a child with CEREBRAL PALSY??? What a sad reflection of our society.

    I’m not here to argue whether or not she really has schizophrenia. I believe that some doctors are too quick to diagnose and push drugs on people but I also believe that a very small number of people truly do have mental illnesses. I don’t know which category Jani falls into, as I’ve never met her. The main issue I’m concerned about here is the fact that people with mental illnesses (and those perceived to have mental illnesses) are seen as less than human. Why is it “understandable” for a parent to beat a child with a mental illness diagnosis but outrageous for a parent to beat a child with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy?

    • 36. abellve  |  October 25, 2010 at 12:57 pm

      The main issue I’m concerned about here is the fact that people with mental illnesses (and those perceived to have mental illnesses) are seen as less than human. Why is it “understandable” for a parent to beat a child with a mental illness diagnosis but outrageous for a parent to beat a child with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy?

      This is my whole point as well and somehow people quick to defend the parents miss it…“They’ve done so many good things, they’ve tried everything, you don’t understand what it’s like, you haven’t been there”…on and on…but they never seem to address the critical part of what I’m saying. You cannot EVER do SOME of what they’ve done. Real or perceived, a mental illness can’t be allowed bump you down into a class in which beatings and starvation are accepted.

      You are right. People are quick to say mental illness is like any other disease but if she had any other disease there wouldn’t be a moral dilemma about that kind of treatment. Minds would be made up. The parents would be judged by their own actions, not how excusable the state of the child makes them.

  • 37. gatorgirly  |  October 26, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Absolutely, abuse is 100% wrong. These parents were wrong to hit and starve their child. Now, let’s just say that social services did take this little girl away. Where would they take her? What kind of life would she have then? Would she truly be better off, or would you be trading one kind of abuse for another (abandonment, over use of drugs, limited stimulation)?Just because it is not physical abuse, it does not mean it is not harmful. From what I have read, nobody wants to work with this little girl, given the severe nature of her illness. So, let’s just say she went into a state hospital or a “group” home. Have you seen these places? Would she be better off there? I can guarantee you she will be more drugged out in those places than she is at home.

    Have you ever tried to function on less than 4 hours of sleep day after day and spend your every waking moment with a severely psychotic child? I haven’t. I have no idea what that must be like. Is it wrong to hit and starve a child? Absolutely. Can I see where it might happen out of pure frustration and hopelessness? Absolutely. I do think these parents love their little girl and want what is best for her. I don’t think that these are abusive parents. I think, just by reading what has been written, they were at the end of their tether. I’m not in any way excusing what they did. There is no excuse, and the family should be watched in the future, but there can be forgiveness and moving on from a past mistake.

    Also, just because something is very rare, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I don’t think we can just say “supposed” illness. She does have a diagnosis. And yes, I know a diagnosis can be wrong, but we are not in the position to say that hers is wrong.

    Just my two cents, for what its worth.

  • 38. dogkisses  |  October 28, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I read almost all your comments, and the post of course, but haven’t gone to the links yet. I will come back to this, but I wanted to thank you for posting and especially, for sticking up for what you believe is right!
    I have quoted you in my personal journal because so much of what you have said in your comments resonates with me, personally.
    As a mother of a son diagnosed with schizophrenia, this post also begs me to look again at his life and the things he went through, including me being at my wits end and lashing out, although nothing like this. Starvation and the beating is not something I can wrap my mind around.
    Thank you for carrying on your blog’s purpose!

  • 39. wkh  |  November 25, 2010 at 1:10 am

    it is offensive you blame her parents for the lack of support available under the current US health care system. I’d go apeshit and beat and starve my nutbag child too if I were in their shoes with no help. Does that make it right? No. It isn’t right either when an abused woman finally kills her abusive husband either. But that’s how it happens. No support.

    When I met my schizophrenic family, I finally understood how exorcisms and stories of being possessed by the devil happened in earlier ages. You detach completely after a while and contemplate the most dark of thoughts.

    So instead of inditing a system that leaves them alone to handle it, you blame them. Smooth move. How very USian indeed.

    • 40. abellve  |  December 6, 2010 at 9:33 am

      I’m not sure where you get that idea. I blame her parents for abuses she’s suffered at their hands, not for a lack of support in the system. If you pay any attention around here, you’ll notice I see the mental health system as at times and in varying degrees flawed, corrupt and ill-equipped to the point of being abusive as an institution.
      I can indict the failing system for one thing and the parents for another. Nothing makes them less responsible for their actions. A system may leave people short of options but it can’t make beating and starvation valid options either.
      I don’t care that you’re offended (primarily because you’re the kind of person that says things like, ” I’d go apeshit and beat and starve my nutbag child.”) but at least get it straight and know why you are offended.

  • 41. Lisa  |  November 29, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Upon watching the so-called documentary on January, it seemed to be more focused on the father and his complaining than on the daughter. In the footage it shows him holding her down and touching her in inappropriate places whilst the mother filmed.
    I don’t think January has Schizophrenia. I think the parents are abusive and neglectful of January and they are trying to justify that abuse by saying she has a mental illness. Meanwhile it’s they who are sick! That Dr Woodward who diagnosed poor January is a quack and the poor child is overly medicated probably causing real brain damage. I noticed that during the child’s therapy session it was the father sitting there complaining and complaining. I couldn’t believe how a father could say such things about his child and in front of his child. It must be so damaging to January. This dysfunctional family seems to revolve its problem around this one small girl. It is not her fault but almost everything they were saying to her was full of accusation and contempt.
    I think these parents should be investigated for child abuse and child neglect.
    I think if January were to be taken off the drugs and adopted by a normal and sane family her behaviour would normalise accordingly.

    • 42. Brittany  |  January 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm

      I would be curious to know your background. As a mental health professional, I can tell you she has pediatric schizophrenia. It is also not as uncommon as people want you to believe. It goes misdiagnosed all the time.

      • 43. Marian  |  January 22, 2011 at 9:09 am

        As a human experience professional, I can tell you she has pediatric human experience. It is also not as uncommon as people want you to believe. It goes misdiagnosed all the time. As “schizophrenia” for instance.

        Before you make the assumption that anyone has “schizophrenia”, pediatric or other, you should be able to scientifically prove that “schizophrenia”, pediatric or other, does exist. Are you?

      • 44. markps2  |  January 31, 2011 at 5:55 pm

        In the year 1666 she would be a witch, today its called schizophrenia, thank goodness we don’t burn or drown witches today, we are civilized, we drug their brain so the devil in them cant get out .

  • 45. Nadine  |  December 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    “I’d go apeshit and beat and starve my nutbag child too if I were in their shoes with no help. Does that make it right? No.”

    And that comment illustrates everything that is wrong with our society which is the point that I and other people have tried to make. If a child with cerebral palsy was being beaten and starved I doubt you’d say, “I’d go apeshit and beat and starve my crippled child too if I were in their shoes with no help. Does that make it right?” Having a mental illness (genuine or misdiagnosed) should NOT automatically put you in a lower class and make abuses more acceptable.

    “No. It isn’t right either when an abused woman finally kills her abusive husband either. But that’s how it happens. No support.”

    And why would you compare a person suffering from schizophrenia (or allegedly suffering from it) to an abusive husband. An abusive husband is a dirt-bag who beats his wife whereas a person with schizophrenia is suffering from a horrible illness or misdiagnosis.

  • 46. dogkisses  |  December 6, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    abellve– hello. You are doing such a great thing by continuing to speak your mind, which in part reflects what is so great about your blog. I salute you.

    My son has the diagnosis of schizophrenia, although not as a child. He was diagnosed as ADD, but I didn’t give him medication. I didn’t judge the parents who did. I try not to judge other people, but beating and starving children is a crime.

    I wasn’t going to comment on this post again because I’m not too good at arguing, particularly online — but one of your comments was too much for me not to say something:– “I’d go apeshit and beat and starve my nutbag child too if I were in their shoes with no help.”
    What a terrible thing to say!
    Our society is us.

  • 47. dogkisses  |  December 10, 2010 at 8:33 am

    PS –abellve
    hi, if you are moderating then you can delete this, but it was bugging me that I chose the word “arguing” in my comment above.

    I realize this thread is not merely arguing, but instead a very important exchange of opinions and feelings about behavior that is altogether unacceptable.

  • 48. Brittany  |  January 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Hello. I am just reading this post. I wanted to say a few things. First off, under NO circumstances is abuse of a child allowed. For that, I completely agree with you. Now…that being said, I have a degree in psychology. I will say after watching all footage possible on this situation, January indeed has childhood schizophrenia. Dosages of Haldol (which is a preferred drug) is common in treating the behavior in hopes to somehow stabalize dangerous and irrational behavior. Someone asked above about HIPPA…January is a minor. Her parents are in charge of HIPPA as far as she is concerned. Privacy is the discretion of the parents. For that, you can judge the parents if you wish. I am also a mother. I will tell you, and I am not proud to admit (but I am quite certain I am not the only one) I have spanked my kids in anger. No this is not right, but unfortunately that’s how it works. Unless you have worked with a child with that magnitude of disability (and I have) then you have absolutely no idea how this can impact a family. My hope is that of Mrs. Schofield, and that is more people can view these documentaries and receive help and look for answers. I would fight until the death to receive an answer for my child if doctors refused to look at other things above the common diagnoses. I believe it is out of line for anyone to contact lawyers etc. on behalf of the parents. And lastly, in the words of a really wise man, “Judge not lest you be judged.”

  • 49. anny  |  April 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    This is just sick. No matter what the child has done she did not deserve that. No child deservers any of this, ill or not. I have no sympathy for people like her parents

  • 50. me3323  |  October 24, 2011 at 4:47 am

    I too am a mental health professional, and feel compelled to remind other mental health professionals commenting on here that unless you are part of January’s treating team it is HIGHLY inappropriate and DISTURBINGLY unethical to be providing diagnoses of this little girl based on documentary footage and youtube. By all means continue to provide the community with much needed psychoeducation about mental illness, but do not damage our profession by throwing around diagnostic opinions without conducting the necessary assessment.



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