Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Drug Endangered Children Face Immediate and Long Term Harm

In 2004, when Governor Dave Freudenthal signed the order creating the Wyoming Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, the order pointed to both the immediate effects and the long-term harm done to children by exposure to toxic drugs, particularly methamphetamine. Besides "profound abuse and neglect, [and] exposure to toxic chemicals and other hazards," children "can be faced with life-long mental and physical health problems" and require "a continuum of care."

 Trainers from the National Alliance DEC have been in Riverton this week to work with local law enforcement who are gradually implementing a collaborative approach to recognize, report and remediate situations where caregivers' drug or alcohol use is threatening their children. In an interview with kcwy13, Riverton police officers also point to the spectrum of harm drug endangered children face. In the short term, they describe how young children can suffer from toxic exposure to drugs: "It can be ingested by the child by just being in the same room if that is being done in that house or residence where that child is playing. Their toys can be contaminated, their food, so it is a huge concern." As the kids get older, the officers say "We see them acting out at school, we see them hanging out on street corners, we see them abusing alcohol and drugs at earlier and earlier ages."

Riverton is stepping up its program in response to several cases of children being endangered by drugs in their environment, particularly with the increase in methamphetamine abuse. Last summer, a couple was arrested for simultaneously dealing meth and running a babysitting business out of their trailer home. Then in the fall, a 1-year old and a 9-month old were suspected of being injected with a drug, leading to their mother's arrest for meth.  Another woman, hallucinating on meth, freaked out customers at the McDonald's by barking like a dog, then sped away with a small child.

From our own tribal communities, we know how problems of substance abuse can pass from one generation to the next. But hope also passes on from one generation to the next, and so does determination to create a better community, starting today. Visit our website for upcoming training opportunities to learn what you can do in your tribal community.

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