Message From the Director

Children who live at or visit home-based meth labs face acute health and safety risks, including the hazards of fires, explosions, abuse, and medical neglect. Increasingly, child protection workers find that these children suffer from physical harm, including burns, bruises, untreated skin disorders, bites, and infections. The “meth home” lifestyle is characterized by chaos, emotional and physical deprivation, the presence of firearms, and filthy surroundings. Parents are engaged in criminal behavior and may exhibit paranoia. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of chemical exposure.

Collaboration among federal, state, and local agencies is critical to ensure the adequate care and protection of these children. Law enforcement agencies at the state and federal levels and child protection agencies in every jurisdiction should establish protocols for their collaboration and for documenting conditions of child endangerment when a laboratory is seized. Victim service providers, public health and medical professionals, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, child protection workers, and judges must understand the special needs of meth’s youngest victims.

John W. Gillis, Director

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Children at Clandestine Methamphetamine Labs: Helping Meth’s Youngest Victims
June 2003