New Hampshire Senate Unanimously Passes Drug Addiction as Child Neglect
Moving right along from New Hampshire’s unanimous decision to place drug addiction and abuse on the list of child neglect offences, the bill now moves to the House for deliberation. The bill was proposed to protected children in households where drug use is prevalent and potentially dangerous, according to the Eagle Tribune.
What we don’t know is how agencies will determine levels of “addiction.” If there needs to be a medical diagnosis, or if states of addiction will be determined directly by the agency. Furthermore, what of parents who are not addicted, but are substance users? Are there quantifiable measures in which a certain amount of illicit substances are present to charge parents?
Despite the bill’s ambiguity, it’s intentions are pure. Child services will be able to move faster, placing children in temporary homes without the need of a lengthy process- to which children would be in harm’s way for a longer period of time. The bill’s immediacy comes after 400 overdose deaths were confirmed in New Hampshire for the year of 2015.
Some voters were hesitant to approve the bill because of the increased allocation of power to childhood services. Until further review, drug use will be labeled as apparent harm to children. This relates especially to infants born with dependencies to opiates and other addictive substances.
We can’t completely throw our entire weight behind this bill for a few reasons:
- What happens to children once they are removed from their homes?
- What steps will social services take to get parents help?
- To what extent will parent and child have visiting rights?
- What therapy will children undergo while removed, and will it include prevention education?
There are more questions left unaddressed, but we think these are the biggest ones up in the air. It’s one thing to remove children from their homes, but how will we prepare both child and parent to create an environment of peace, safety, and love? It’s not enough to remove children, we must teach families how to live and be productive without continual intervention from state or governmental services.
Without addiction treatment for parents, there is little hope much will change. It’s not enough to simply abstain, one must address the disease and lay it to rest. Making continuing therapy mandatory isn’t a bad idea.
But this would require funding.
If not funded by the state or insurance, how will parents get the treatment they need if government addiction treatment centers have waiting lists as long as six months for treatment? It would be almost impossible for children to return home timely under these circumstances. And yet, we must find a way for treatment implementation.
As for infants, children, and teenagers who are removed from their homes, will they be pitched into the dredges of foster homes? There are innumerable statistics on the detriments of foster homes. Until we reform the system, I cannot express with any confidence the benefit children and teens will levy from foster care.
Here are some foster care statistics from Abc News
- More than 20,000 children each year never leave foster care- they remain until they become of legal age
- 30% of homeless people were in foster care
- 25% of prison inmates were in foster care
- Case workers have an extremely high turnover rate– 20% to be exact
- Case workers can have more than 17 cases at one time
Whatsmore, without prevention education (because we know DNA plays a large role in addiction) teens are more likely to follow in their parents footsteps. It’s critical to intervene now and have both parent and child receive the attention they need to prevent further tragedies.
As for visitations, will children and parents be able to visit one another? You decide, would it be more beneficial or harmful?
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.