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Involuntary Mental Health Commitments Surge In Minors

Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The number of children taken into protective custody for mental health examinations has surged across the state.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the total number of minors evaluated in Florida under the Baker Act increased by 50 percent from fiscal year 2010 to 2015.

It's unclear what's behind the increase in exams under the state's Baker Act, a law designed to commit people thought to be mentally ill or a danger to themselves or others to an evaluation. Mental health professionals, law enforcement, and school officials say it could be several factors, from more mental health awareness to the use of social media among teenagers, which can lead to cyber bullying.

Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger is raising concerns about the high volume of Baker Act evaluations among children.