Opioid epidemic increases child endangerment charges in So. Ind.

Clark Co. child endangerment cases increasing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – More children are being put in danger because of their parent's drug use, according to the Clark County Prosecutor’s office.  One grandmother told WHAS 11 News that she’s seen it firsthand. 

“It can be a scary situation for a child, any time they're faced with something like that,” Debbie Gilbert explained. 

Gilbert said her son is an addict and remembers being fearful for her two grandsons at a time her son was doped up and watching them.  

“I just happened to go over one weekend when he had them, and I felt like they were not safe. I felt like things were not going well, my son's behavior was erratic and I thought at the time, I really wasn't certain, but I felt sure he was on drugs.”

Jeremy Mull told WHAS11 News it’s happening more and more.  Kids being neglected by their parents selling or using drugs. 

“These children are terrified many times when they're parents become unconscious or pass out or become unresponsive,” Mull said.

A stack of cases sits on Mull’s desk, filled with allegations of children left in unsafe situations because of their parent's drug use, like one motel manager describes. 

“He gets into the room and finds a toddler in the room who evidentially is hungry and is eating lotion while the individual who has custody of the toddler is passed out and unconscious from drug usage,” Mull explained. 

Mull said he's seen at least 32 child endangerment cases related to drugs this year, which is more than last year.  He suspects there's more to come unless stricter drug penalties are put in place to help protect these children.

“We cannot have children in situations where they're forced to live at home where someone is using drugs. So those are the two choices offenders are given, you either get sober, or you get removed from society by going to jail,” he said. 

Gilbert said she isn't sure it's that simple.

“I don't think you're going to jail your way out of this drug problem. I don't know what it is, I don't know what the answer is, but I don't think that's going to work.”

Gilbert said family support has helped her grandsons deal with the tragedy of addiction and explained that other children will need saviors, too.

Gilbert is part of an organization called “I Am Affected,” filled with friends and family of addicts, along with recovering addicts, working to heal the lives of everyone affected by drug use.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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