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

June 2003
by Karen Swetlow


Message From the Director

Children who live at or visit clandestine methamphetamine laboratories face acute health and safety risks.

Meth Production Site: Not Really a Laboratory
Although manufacturing methods may vary, all meth labs produce volatile chemicals and toxic vapors that present significant health and safety hazards.

Methamphetamine Trends in the United States
The number of children present or residing in seized meth labs, exposed to toxic chemicals, and taken into protective custody rose significantly from 2000 to 2002. (Note: Text on this page has been updated.)

Dangers to Children Living at Meth Labs
Children living at clandestine meth labs are exposed to chemical contamination; risks related to fires and explosions, abuse and neglect, and hazardous living conditions; and other dangers.

Multidisciplinary Teams: Elements of Success
A coordinated multidisciplinary response should include medical and mental health services, child protective services, law enforcement, public safety, and prosecution personnel.

Promising Practices in the Field
Coordinated multidisciplinary programs in California, Idaho, and Washington demonstrate promising practices that can be adapted by other jurisdictions.

A coordinated multidisciplinary team is critical to ensure that the needs of meth’s youngest victims are met and that adequate information is available to prosecute child endangerment cases successfully.




For More Information

OVC Resource Center: 301-519-5500
Toll-Free: 1-800-627-6872
TTY: 301-947-8374

OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center:

TTY: 1-866-682-8880

Additional Information
State contact information on establishing a multidisciplinary meth lab response team and related Web sites.

Preparation of this document was supported by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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