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April 11, 2024

The US Is Failing Infants Exposed to Drugs and Alcohol

Joseph Adonis of New York, age 14 months, died from acute heroin, cocaine and fentanyl poisoning. A medically fragile toddler in Arizona died after being left unattended his crib by parents with a long history of substance abuse. A Missouri four-year old died from malnutrition and chronic abuse by a caregiver prone to “unpredictable behavior” due to drug abuse. These…

April 9, 2024

Child Abandonment in the Name of Compassion

A self-described libertarian friend once described to me the feeling she had when it was time to leave the hospital with her newborn baby. She remembered looking at the nurse and thinking, “You’re just going to let me take this thing home? I have no idea what I’m doing.” Even those of us who are…

April 5, 2024

The US Is Failing Substance-Exposed Infants

Key Points Read the full pdf. Introduction The stark human and societal cost of the drug epidemic is undeniable, directly taking over 100,000 lives each year since 2021.1 Due to infrequent and inconsistent testing,2 there is no reliable count of how many children are exposed to substances in utero, but, even before the current drug epidemic began,…

March 27, 2024

Narcan Babies

“As medical professionals who work with pregnant patients, you face numerous medical, legal, and ethical decision points when treating a patient for substance use during pregnancy, and when providing care to a neonate with drug or alcohol exposure.” So begins a pamphlet of advice for doctors and nurses that discourages them from reporting mothers for substance abuse…

March 21, 2024

Why Foster Kids Aren’t Getting the Mental Health Care They need

Last fall, a 15-year-old foster child in Kansas took his own life. According to a local news report, the boy’s foster family “immediately called for help when they discovered the teenager, but paramedics couldn’t save him.” The Kansas City Beacon reported that the agency that was overseeing the placement, KVC Kansas, did not meet the state’s guidelines for…

March 14, 2024

The Chipping Away at Safe Haven Laws

“No Shame, No Blame, No Names.” That’s how one billboard advertises Safe Haven baby boxes, where a mother can anonymously leave her newborn at a fire station or other emergency facility if she feels she cannot care for the child. Unfortunately, this option, which is available in 19 states including Massachusetts, might not be effective for long. Officials…

March 4, 2024

Teen Suicide and the Limits of Sociology

“No one, it appears, was free to just parent as they wanted to parent—free of the web of social ties that both gave their lives meaning and set firm constraints around expected behaviors.” This observation from a new book about the town of Poplar Grove—the fictional name for a real, wealthy community where there have…

March 1, 2024

How the Children’s Bureau Lost Its Way

“It’s definitely very empowering when you get involved. Like anytime I finish a pair of beaded earrings. I feel like, wow, I just did that.” This message of empowerment through beading was tweeted out by the federal Administration for Children and Families recently. It’s one of a series of head-scratching messages offered by the agency…

January 21, 2024

Portland’s Encampment Kids

I’m standing outside the Central Police Precinct in downtown Portland, Oregon. Officer Eli Arnold and I have bicycled over to meet two of his colleagues, returned from a drug bust. We examine the proceeds of the crime on the hood of a squad car. The officers weigh the fentanyl powder on a small scale, record…

November 11, 2023

Why is NYC Telling Teachers to Not Keep Kids Safe?

When you see something, should you say something? According to the Office of Children and Family Services, it depends on the race of the victim.  New guidance released last month for New York City teachers offers some unusual bits of advice. Rather than reporting suspected cases of abuse to the Administration for Children’s Services, teachers should actually…