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The Opioid Crisis and Children: The Critical Role of Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2020
4 pages
After identifying the potential threats to children posed by the opioid crisis, this report provides guidance in implementing the strategy of "deflection" proposed by the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (National DEC), with a focus on its implementation by law enforcement officers.
This report indicates that about nine million children in the United States grow up exposed to a parent/caregiver (or household member) with a substance-use disorder. These children are at risk for being abused or neglected, developing a substance-use disorder, and becoming involved in the justice system. The responsive challenge is early identification and intervention. Many law enforcement agencies are already responding with action referred to as law enforcement-led deflection, or law enforcement diversion. Deflection involves a law enforcement response that directs drug-involved people to community-based treatment, housing, services, and case management intended to avoid involvement in the criminal justice system. The National DEC's philosophy advances widening law enforcement's scope to do more in addressing the needs of children affected by adult caregivers who are abusing substances. National DEC is a recognized expert in addressing the needs of drug-endangered children. It provides a comprehensive range of resources and services that assist professionals, including law enforcement officers, in identifying drug-endangered children, responding to the risks they may be facing, and connecting them to interventions and services that address their needs.

Date Published: October 1, 2020