Drug Endangered Children


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A presentation made by Coun. Jordan Bateman to the Township's Community Safety Commission on May 21, 2008.

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Drug Endangered Children

  1. Drug-Endangered Children Presentation by Jordan Bateman to the Township of Langley Community Safety Commission Wednesday, May 21, 2008
  2. What are drug-endangered children? <ul><li>Children growing up in marijuana grow operations or crystal meth labs are exposed to incredible danger by the carelessness and high-risk lifestyle of their parents or guardians. </li></ul>
  3. The Situation <ul><li>Township Public Safety Inspection Team </li></ul><ul><ul><li>158 grow-ops in 6 months </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>36 homes showed evidence of children living there: clothes, swing sets, toys, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Surrey PSIT found 80 grow-ops, housing 155 children, in their PSIT team’s first year </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abbotsford PSIT found kids in 54 of the 150 grow-ops they investigated in 2006. One grow-op had 111 plants, and the two small children had to be treated for respiratory illness linked to the grow. </li></ul></ul>
  4. The Situation <ul><li>Darryl Plecas reports that kids are present in one out of every five BC grow-ops </li></ul><ul><ul><li>BC Association of Social Workers estimate that there are 5,000 grow-ops in the Lower Mainland </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1,000 could have children present </li></ul></ul>
  5. The Situation <ul><li>USA Agencies have done a lot of work on the meth lab side </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Washington State: 35% of meth labs have children residing in them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In 2001, 1,231 kids found in meth house labs in California, Missouri, Oregon and Washington, required hospitalization or treatment as a result of toxic levels of meth ingredients in bloodstream </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In Colorado, 80% of meth lab children test positive for meth ingredients and by-products </li></ul></ul>
  6. The Dangers <ul><li>Fires, electrocution or explosions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We have PSIT teams for a reason: grow-ops are a leading cause of fires in our neighbourhoods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Almost 10% of fires in Surrey are related to grow-ops </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Shoddy electrical work </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meth labs are prone to explosions </li></ul></ul>
  7. 1990s Three children die in a meth lab fire in California: Deon 3 Jackson 2 Megan 1 Raises public awareness of this issue for first time. Photo from Wisconsin Drug-Endangered Children Program
  8. The Dangers <ul><li>Exposure to toxic chemicals and substances </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inhalation, absorption or ingestion of chemicals, including mould spores, carbon monoxide, pesticides, carbon dioxide, and ozone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most municipalities have stringent building bylaw rules to bring drug lab homes up to code—but what about the kids who live in them while the lab or grow is active? </li></ul></ul>
  9. Photo from Wisconsin Drug-Endangered Children Program
  10. The Dangers <ul><li>Exposure to toxic chemicals and substances </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kids are naturally curious. Precursor chemicals can burn skin. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Toxic fumes can cause burning eyes or skin, dry mouth, anorexia, insomnia, tremors, rashes, fainting, blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, seizures, cardiac distress, coughing, shortness of breath, lead poisoning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Meth often prepared in the same kitchen as children’s meals </li></ul></ul>
  11. Photo from Wisconsin Drug-Endangered Children Program
  12. Photo from Wisconsin Drug-Endangered Children Program
  13. The Dangers <ul><li>Long-term effects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Severe skin conditions, irritability, poor concentration, hyperactivity, fear, hallucinations, symptoms of schizophrenia, kidney, lung and liver diseases, cancer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chronic respiratory problems, neurological damage, cancer from toxic mould </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Asthma often results from grow-op homes </li></ul></ul>
  14. The Dangers <ul><li>Abuse, neglect, and bad habits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exposure to weapons and questionable choices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meth users exhibit psychological disturbances, anxiety, paranoia, irritability, confusion, psychosis and mood swings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased potential for violent behaviours </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Children of drug users are often neglected and abused, as drug use is strongly correlated with impaired judgment and emotional instability, increasing the possibility that the children’s physical and emotional needs will not be met by their parents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Children learn behaviours from their parents and caregivers—are these behaviours we want them to emulate? </li></ul></ul>
  15. Langley’s Situation <ul><li>We are leaders on this file </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Excellent working relationship amongst RCMP, PSIT, and the Ministry of Children and Families </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong protocols have been developed for PSIT and RCMP who encounter kids in drug situations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It may be wise to have these kids automatically undergo a complete physical at LMH </li></ul></ul>
  16. Possible Legislative Solutions <ul><li>Government of Canada </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Alter the Criminal Code’s sentencing principles to include endangering children in a drug operation as an aggravating factor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This would encourage judges to stiffen sentences for those who put children at risk </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring in a national Drug-Endangered Children Act similar to Alberta’s </li></ul></ul>
  17. Possible Legislative Solutions <ul><li>Government of British Columbia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring in a Drug-Endangered Children Act similar to Alberta’s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Minimum $25,000 fines and prison terms of up to two years </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>BC’s present Child, Family and Community Services Act simply isn’t designed to deal with this problem. Drug endangerment must be specifically named in legislation as a form of child abuse </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. Possible Legislative Solutions <ul><li>Government of British Columbia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop a formal protocol for social workers dealing with drug-endangered children, similar to the one proposed by the BC Association of Social Workers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>See the attachment for this excellent document which lays out how a social worker should deal with a drug-endangered child. It includes evidence-gathering, care details, and ensuring the child has a proper medical examination. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensure the social services system has enough resources to handle these cases </li></ul></ul>
  19. Possible Legislative Solutions <ul><li>BC Local Governments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensure that clear procedures for police and public safety teams are laid out </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>BC Ministry of Children and Families should be called whenever children are found in drug labs and grow-ops </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence of potential and actual dangers to children should collected and recorded </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Investigate the possibility of integrated RCMP “kiddie cars” which would include a police officer and social worker specifically trained to deal with the issues around child abuse and other domestic situations </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. Possible Legislative Solutions <ul><li>BC Local Governments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lobby the Government of BC to bring in a Drug-Endangered Children’s Act , social worker protocols, and improve the social services system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most municipalities (through building bylaws) have done their part to protect future occupants of grow-op and meth lab homes, but it’s up to the Province to do their part for the children who presently reside there </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. Possible Actions for CSC <ul><li>Recommendation to Township Council </li></ul><ul><ul><li>That a letter be sent to the federal and provincial governments asking for better protection for drug-endangered children and more resources for frontline social workers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>That Langley RCMP, in conjunction with Surrey, consider the feasibility of a ‘kiddie car’—which would include a police officer and social worker specifically trained to deal with the issues around child abuse </li></ul></ul>