Child abuse and parental drug use are very much connected, according to reports by the National Council on Child Abuse & Family Violence. A current report in one of the Child Welfare League of America’s new booklets states, “More than 8 million children live with parents who are substance abusers.”1 “Substance abuse exists in 40-80 percent of families where there is child abuse.”2 “Children whose parents use alcohol and other drugs are three times more likely to be abused and more than four times more likely to be neglected than children from non [substance] abusing families.”3
If the above-mentioned quotes don’t shake you to your very soul, then it’s possible you may be a robot! We have programs to help children in this Country, “No Child Left Behind”, “No Kid Hungry”… Why not “No Kid Abused…Ever!” ? And why not more efforts directed toward prevention, intervention and if abuse is found, stiffer penalties for abusers?
Summing up their August 1-3, 2016, California conference, the CWLA noted on their website: “ Substance use has a significant impact on all child welfare practice areas, and is a major reason that children come into the child welfare system and have trouble returning home.”4 (www.cwla.org/2016-post-conference/) But still it frequently seems that law enforcement and public health and welfare agencies are aware of but seem powerless to make the connection between drug use (and abuse) and child abuse and to act and to do what is needed, before the damage to children is done.
Children whose homes are meth labs are in constant danger–you have only to pick up your daily newspaper to see the results in bold headlines. Yesterday, in New Mexico, a 10-year old girl named Victoria was killed… by her mother, and her mother’s boyfriend on meth. They injected the child with meth and committed unspeakable crimes.5 Two days before, a 5-year old girl in Minnesota was kidnapped, assaulted and murdered, her body dumped in a field by a “family friend”.6 I am listing only two sad examples of what are thought to be drug-related crimes–and there are many, many more.
Children should not have to fear their parents or the quality of their homelife.
This is what Arizona’s Attorney General has posted on the Attorney General’s website, “About Meth”:
“Exposure to meth manufacturing can harm anyone, but it is particularly dangerous to children. Once a meth lab is discovered, children who live in meth labs need special and immediate attention from a variety of professionals, including medical, legal and child welfare. The dangers faced by children who live in and near meth labs include contamination, fire and explosion, child abuse and neglect, hazardous living conditions and other social problems.”7 (www.azag.gov/meth#how_meth_endangers)
The longer people keep silent about neighbors they believe are making and/or using and abusing drugs, like methamphetamine, the more children will be abused, injured and worse. Frequently children who come from drug-using and abusive homes are placed, sometimes repeatedly, by the courts in foster care–and in some cases, possibly most cases, they are the lucky ones.
1National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence, www.nccafv.org/parentalsubstanceabuse.htm
4Child Welfare League of America, “Advancing Excellence in Practice and Policy, August 1-3, 2016: What Works for Families Affected by Substance Abuse”, Orange, California, website: www.cwla.org/2016-post-conference
5“Girl’s Brutal Killing in N.M. Detailed By Police”, Daily News Record, Associated Press, 8/26/16, p. A2.
6“Man Jailed in Girl’s Murder”, Daily News Record, Associated Press, 8/23/16, p. A9.
7Website of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, 2016, www.azag.gov/meth#how_meth_endangers