Amarillo officials continue to see children exposed to drugs

Amarillo officials continue to see children exposed to drugs

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - More cases of drug abuse in our area are now creating more cases of children with drugs in their systems.

Newschannel ten found five indictments out of Potter County from just one day, all of them reading after an analysis of a child's hair, meth or cocaine was found in the child's body. And the defendant did not take the child to emergency care.

It's a sad and shocking statistic...around 80 to 90 percent of the cases of abused or neglected children in Amarillo involve some type of drug use, according to advocacy officials.

And these indictments mirror the growing problem of parents and relatives exposing children to drugs. Officials say we may be seeing a rise in cases, because more people know what to look for.

"The majority of those cases, our top two kind of drugs we see coming through our doors are methamphetamine and marijuana," says Executive Director of CASA Lara Escobar.

"A lot of people don't think that the kids are being effected because there isn't that strong odor, but it clings to everything," says Forensic Interviewer with The Bridge Brea Berry. "It clings to clothes, toys bedding linens. Children that are coming out of meth houses...everything in that house has to be destroyed. Because of that chemical seeping in. So a child may not smoke the methamphetamine but they could have levels just as high as a daily user because of being around that smoke and inhaling it."

Defendants in the cases we looked into are charged with Abandoning or Endangerment of a Child, a State Jail Felony. But Berry and Escobar tell us, the aftermath of children being exposed to these drugs is much worse.

"There are secondary things that happen," says Escobar. "So it could be neglectful supervision, it could be physical abuse, there could be domestic violence, there could be sexual abuse, so the drugs kind of open the door for some of those other things."

"I've had kids that come here that talk to me that are 12 and 13 that are operating on a 7 or 8 year old level because the drugs have affected their little brains so much and the neglect of the parents not working with them and not getting their development where it needs to be," says Berry.

In Texas, state jail felonies are punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

If you suspect one of these cases, call 1-800-252-5400

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