Parents on Methamphetamines
According to a new study from Baylor University in the U.S., parents who abuse methamphetamines are more likely to harm or neglect their children. This in turn increases the chances of their children being taken into foster care.
The study found that for every one percent increase in meth abuse there was a 1.5 percent increase in children ending up in foster care. As the number of meth users continues to rise, this could have disastrous effects both on families and the foster care program.
"Our findings suggest strongly that the social costs of parental meth use include child maltreatment and growth in foster care placements," said Scott Cunningham, Ph.D., study co-author and assistant professor of economics at Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business. "To address this, child welfare policies should be designed specifically for the children of meth-using parents."
The link between methamphetamine abuse and foster care was first noticeable in the 1980's and 90's. The U.S. foster care population increased by over 45percent at around the same time meth addiction was becoming prevalent. Scientists have observed similar trends that link any drop in meth production to a similar decrease in foster care admission.
With an estimated 500 metric tons of amphetamine-type stimulants being produced every year, the effects of meth addiction on children are becoming painfully clear. In the U.S. 4.5 percent of students graduating from high school report having tried methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime. The effects of meth addiction are also hitting the families of addicts. Many children of meth addicts are only able to avoid foster care by moving in with grandparents.
2006 report by the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, recommends granting subsidies and other help to grandparents who have been forced to care for their grandchildren. This would ease pressure on the foster care system while still keeping children in a familiar and loving environment.Continued on the next page