Children whose parents use alcohol or drugs are three times more likely to be abused, neglected and to develop substance use disorders on their own. According to the National Criminal Justice Training Center, substance use disorders are characterized by recurrent alcohol or other drug use, resulting in significant impairment.
According to the NCJTC, 1 in 8 children live in a household with at least one parent who suffers from a substance use disorder. One in 10 children live in a household where at least one parent suffers from an alcohol use disorder. One in 35 people live in a household where at least one parent suffers from an illicit drug use disorder.
According to the Kids Count data center of the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Coffee County, in 2020 there were 13,656 residents under the age of 18, which means that more than 1,700 children in Coffee County live in households with at least one drug addict parent. disorder.
And these are numbers of children that have been identified by law enforcement and / or the Department of Children’s Services. How many children live in similar situations that we ignore? How many children are really at risk of abuse?
Children whose parents use alcohol or drugs are three times more likely to be verbally, physically or sexually assaulted; and four times more likely than other children to be neglected, according to the National Criminal Justice Training Center.
Children of parents with substance use disorders are more likely to develop substance use problems on their own. And it shows once again the importance of tackling the multigenerational cycle of abuse and neglect.
The impact on children begins even before they are born. Infants exposed to drugs in utero are more likely to be abused or neglected, and most likely, these children will live in chaotic environments, with lack of supervision and a lack of necessities. It is even more alarming that there is a correlation between drug addiction and violence in the home. Additionally, children in drug-addicted households are more likely to be victims of sex trafficking, according to the National Alliance for Children at Risk of Drug Use.
To help children grow up in a safe and healthy atmosphere, we need to understand how hazardous environments affect them. Children who grow up in drug-related environments can experience anxiety, PTSD, and other emotional issues. They may also experience behavioral problems, such as sexual acts for example. In addition, they are likely to have cognitive problems, such as difficulty picking up social cues or paying attention.
A report of child abuse or neglect is made every 10 seconds in the United States. But remember, these are only reported incidents, so the sad truth is that child abuse happens more often than that.
And many children who experience abuse may grow up and repeat the mistakes of their guardians if the intervention does not take place.
Child victims of abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as minors; 28% more likely to be arrested in adulthood; and 30% more likely to commit violent crime, according to the NCJTC. Two-thirds of people in drug treatment reported being abused or neglected as children.
The good news is that we can help children if we learn the red flags associated with child abuse. The intervention can help children heal.
And it is important to intervene as early as possible because earlier intervention works better. If you suspect a child of abuse, please report it by calling 1-877-237-0004.
Learn more about preventing child abuse by visiting coffeecountycac.org and follow Coffee County Children’s Advocacy Center on social media. The Coffee County Children’s Advocacy Center offers free child abuse prevention training through a grant received by the center. Coffee County CAC is located at 104 N. Spring Street in Manchester and serves the Manchester area, Tullahoma and Coffee County.
Joyce Prusak is Executive Director of the Coffee County Children’s Advocacy Center.