Sad Reality

The Sad Reality for those who believe drugs don't harm the children...

Published: February, 1999

The abuse of alcohol and drugs has had a dramatic effect on foster care, particularly in the past 20 years. With increasing frequency, children are coming into care because their parents are addicted to alcohol and drugs. Many children also are born to mothers who abused alcohol and drugs while pregnant. These children often are placed in foster care with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other drug-related conditions.

Of all the recent trends in child welfare, perhaps none has been more troubling than the increase in cases of child abuse and neglect resulting from parental abuse of alcohol and drugs.

In 1995, nearly 3.1 million children were reported to child protective services as abused or neglected. Approximately one million of these reports were substantiated.
Substance abuse was found to be a factor in a majority of these cases.

Studies by the Child Welfare League of America and other organizations have found that substance abuse is a factor in at least 75%  of all placements in out-of-home care.

Eighty percent of States now report that parental abuse of alcohol or drugs is one of the two most common problems in families reported for child maltreatment.

Children in these families frequently suffer serious emotional and behavior problems as a result of the erratic and abusive parenting behavior that often accompanies substance abuse.

The children frequently exhibit one or more of the following: diminished ability to concentrate nihillstic or fatalistic orientations toward the future poor attachment behavior, or a tendency to choose risky behavior, including the use of alcohol or other drugs later in life.

Substance abuse also creates a complex set of choices for child welfare professionals, who must determine the safest option for children whose parents may or may not recover from their addiction. The majority of children entering foster care eventually return to their parents. However, in recent years an increasing number have left foster care only to re-enter the system at a later date.

While parental abuse of alcohol and drugs is detrimental to a child of any age, the use and abuse of these chemicals by pregnant women is believed to be the most harmful. At least one in five pregnant women (800,000) drinks, smokes, or uses drugs, putting herself and her unborn child at risk.

Each year, women in the United States give birth to nearly half a million babies who have been exposed to illicit drugs in utero. These infants are more likely to be born prematurely and have low birth weight as well as other medical complications at birth.

The cost of hospitalization for a very low birth weight baby in need of intensive care can be as high as $150,000 or more. The annual medical cost of caring for cocaine-exposed babies nation wide has been estimated at 33 million for neonates, and as high as 1.4 billion during the babies'  first year of life.

Children born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome need comprehensive long-term, integrated interventions that include social, health, emotional and educational services. These services place additional strain on the economic and social resources of society.

There is currently a shortage of foster parents trained to care for medically fragile infants, many of whom have been exposed to alcohol or drugs in utero. These infants often remain hospitalized for several months because foster care agencies cannot find families who are able and willing to care for them. Even after they are placed, they often are moved from one home to the next in search of foster parents with the patience and skill needed to care for them.

The yearly cost per foster child is $150,000, Project Prevention has prevented a minimum of 3,600 infants from being conceived saving taxpayers an estimated 543 million dollars. That is money that could be used for drug treatment, education, or other positive programs.

Source of information above: 

The number of child deaths per day due to child abuse and neglect have risen from 3.33 in 1995 to 4.82 in 2007

A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds

Almost five children die everyday as a result of child abuse. Three out of four are under the age of 4

It is estimated that between 60-85% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are  not recorded as such on death certificates.

31% of women in prison in the United States were abused as children.

over 60% of people in drug rehabilitation centers report being abused or neglected as a child.

The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2007 is $104 billion.

Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.

Children who have been sexually abused are 2.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol.

Children who have been sexually abused are 3.8 times more likely to develop drug addictions