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Substance Abuse Often Plays Role in Child Neglect or Abuse in Kentucky

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Substance abuse often plays a role in cases of child abuse or neglect in Kentucky, according to an investigation by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The newspaper reviewed files recently released on children who were killed or almost killed because of abuse or neglect over two years. The investigation revealed that more than half of cases involved suspected or confirmed substance abuse by parents or caregivers.

The newspaper reviewed 85 cases from 2009 and 2010. About 59 percent refer to substance abuse by parents or caregivers, the article notes. While in some cases substance abuse allegedly happened before the incident that was under review, in at least 19 cases, alcohol or drug use was discussed in connection with the event.

In one case, a mother admitted taking an anti-anxiety drug before rolling over on her daughter in her sleep, causing the little girl to suffocate. In another case, a man with financial troubles drank all day, shot a three-year-old boy to death, and then killed himself.

Several cases involved adults who gave children drugs or alcohol, or did not prevent children from gaining access to them. One boy nearly died after apparently eating some of his mother’s methadone. One two-year-old girl was taken to the hospital with a blood-alcohol level of 0.259, three times the legal driving limit in Kentucky. Her stepfather had encouraged her to take sips of iced tea spiked with gin.

According to the article, studies have shown that mistreated children of parents who abuse drugs and alcohol are more likely to have physical, emotional and intellectual problems.

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