Columbia, SC — The growth of clandestine methamphetamine labs and “home-cooking” in South Carolina poses serious threats to child safety and challenges child-welfare agencies and communities to develop appropriate protections and treatment strategies.
Federal officials note that, more than any other controlled substance, meth trafficking endangers children through exposure to drug abuse, neglect, physical and sexual abuse, toxic chemicals, hazardous waste, fire and explosions.
Research suggests that methamphetamine users, even with low usage, are easily susceptible to physical, cognitive and emotional damage that have direct implications for their capacity to protect their children. The lack of prenatal care alone can have devastating results.
Drug-exposed infants may be at risk for problems later in life, such as speech delay, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and behavioral problems that may not be clinically present until the child is at least 2, or even school age.
Further, the burden on law enforcement in locating, seizing and processing sites while maintaining safety for officers, social workers and individuals is both a training challenge and a burden on the taxpayers.
Neither our state Department of Social Services nor our state Victim/Witness Assistance Program is prepared to provide the assistance to victims of methamphetamine, particularly drug-endangered children, at the level needed.
We need to ensure that all endangered children are identified and that their immediate safety is addressed at the scene by appropriate child-welfare and health-care service providers. Assistance must also be provided to vulnerable adults, individuals of domestic violence and customers and employees of businesses such as hotels and motels where methamphetamine has been produced or seized.
The cost of not stopping the sale of precursory ingredients used in this “manufacturing” epidemic within our borders is becoming overwhelming.
The S.C. Crime Victims’ Council joined law enforcement in 2011 to support legislation to limit the amount of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine being sold to individuals and establish a database, but “smurfing” has succeeded in making the law ineffective. Scheduling the precursory drugs to prescription-only will help solve the meth problem in South Carolina.
The inconvenience of a few citizens with runny noses is of little importance when compared to the safety and health of our innocent children.
S.C. Crime Victims’ Council