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Children at Clandestine Methamphetamine Labs: Helping Meth's Youngest Victims

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2003
12 pages
This document discusses the damage to children at clandestine methamphetamine labs and the need for multidisciplinary programs to help them.
A child living at a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory is exposed to immediate dangers and to the ongoing effects of chemical contamination. The child is also subjected to fires and explosions, abuse and neglect, a hazardous lifestyle (including the presence of firearms), and social problems. These children require immediate attention and care. Interagency protocols should be established in every jurisdiction where clandestine meth labs are found. The teams involved in seizing clandestine meth labs should include, or should have immediate access to, qualified personnel that can respond immediately to the potential health needs of any children that are present or living at the site. These personnel include medical and mental health service workers, child protective services workers, law enforcement organizations, public safety workers, and criminal prosecutors. Actions should include taking children into protective custody and arranging for child protective services, immediately testing them for methamphetamine exposure, conducting medical and mental health assessments, and ensuring short- or long-term care and follow-up. A coordinated multidisciplinary team approach is critical to ensure that the needs of these young victims are met and that adequate information is available to prosecute child endangerment cases successfully. Some of the States most affected by the growth in illegal methamphetamine manufacturing have successfully implemented coordinated multidisciplinary programs to help children found living at illegal meth labs. Programs in California, Idaho, and Washington include promising practices that can be adapted by other jurisdictions around the country. 22 notes, bibliography

Date Published: June 1, 2003