Child Endangerment? SERIOUSLY!

A 13-year boy died of an apparent heroin overdose this past weekend in Ohio.  While the drug epidemic is growing and we are seeing younger individuals overdosing, this is the not case here.  According to authorities, the young teenager ‘found’ his father’s heroin stash. 

The father is being charged with child endangerment. Seriously?  As most parents would attest to, the boy was most likely curious and made the fatal decision to try the drug. This was no accident and it could have been prevented.  Records show the father had been charged several times with drug possession of heroin and cocaine.  Drug paraphernalia (needle, syringe and pipe) were also found at the boys’ home.  The father, along with his girlfriend already face child endangerment from these incidents.

So explain to me, how is it possible that this man still had custody of his children? Has our society and legal system become so desensitized to the ongoing drug problems, that cases such as these are not considered a major crime?

Citizens need to make a noise, our voices need to speak for the young children who have perished in situations like these, and no longer have a voice. Lawmakers and the court systems need to begin handing out stiffer penalties for first time drug possessions.  A slap on the hand and the cycle repeats itself.  A cycle that is slowing killing our children.

  • 7 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • So sad. I feel so badly for kids who suffer the collateral damage of their parents' drug abuse.
  • It's easy to pass judgment in cases like this, especially those that result in the death of a child. I agree with you that custody of the child should have been reconsidered after the father's first drug charge, especially if there were other people in the family that could have taken the child. However, there are often compelling reasons why custody is not taken away. With our foster care and adoption systems being swollen to the point of bursting, it can be hard for a social worker to know when to make the call to take custody from a parent, or whether such a call would be good for a child, especially an older child who would almost certainly suffer in the foster care system; after all, it's not like any of them can predict the future. If anyone had known that this kid would find his father's drug stash and overdose, then I'm certain things would have been handled differently.

    It's also important not to get lulled into thinking that punitive action is effective treatment for addiction. I don't think that heavier charges are going to make drug users stop using, nor that they would stop people from starting to use in the first place. Instead of taking a punitive approach, it may be worth thinking about how we can rehabilitate first-time drug offenders. Here's an article about Portugal's famous drug rehabilitation program, which is something to think about when we consider how to approach drug addiction, criminalization and rehabilitation. Of course, the context is different and our resources are limited, and it would be difficult to immediately switch to a system like that in the US with any kind of efficiency, but it's still worth thinking about, because the results seem worthwhile.

    It's important to have compassion for others, even when their neglect results in the death of another human, even when their neglect results in the death of a child. Addiction is complex, and so are people. The incident you've outlined above is tragic, and it could have been avoided. I think it would have been best avoided by fostering a culture of healing and acceptance, rather than "a slap on the hand" or a punch in the metaphorical gut. Instead of perpetuating the narrative that drug users are criminals (and thus telling them that they're unwanted), we must tackle the problem at its root, and examine our society and its relationship with drugs.

    I think that Johann Hari puts it best in his book, Chasing the Scream. If anything I said sounds interesting to you, you should read it! He writes well and has done a ton of research on the subject. It's very compelling.

    However, all those words are cold comfort when it comes to the death of a child. It's incredibly tragic that this poor kid died; he should never have had access to drugs like that. I understand why you feel the way you do, and I'm glad that you feel so strongly. I hope that as our society grows, we can find the best way to stop these sorts of tragedies from happening. 
  • @BlueAuabde I understand compassion and I get it that addicts have a disease and at the root of that disease is a soul that is lost. a person who is in need of unconditional love and authentic community. i am aware of the studies on how loving communities can help addicts stop using...

    i just think the "system" could have done better in this case. not as a punishment to the addict...but to protect innocent children. but yes, i agree that we as a society must march forward with the intent of healing at the root of the issue... 

    i've wanted to read that book chasing the scream. thanks for the reminder!
  • @dominica , sorry if that came off kind of preachy. I was a little low on sleep, and wasn't thinking, just reacting. You're welcome, though, for the reminder about that book. It's a great read!
  • @BlueAubade  no worries! glad you are here contributing! :)
  • When I first read this this morning I wanted to reach through my computer screen and break the fathers neck . I still do , but I have to look in the mirror and question the alcohol induced conditions my own children have seen in me before .
    This is a tragic situation on all accounts . I just hope enough folks can learn from it .
  • @TWSJ i hear you. darnit. let's keep doing what we're doing and spreading hope....and help.  :)
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