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Officials target Whitley meth use, child neglect

Statement as distributed Wednesday by the Indiana Department of Child Services:

COLUMBIA CITY, IND. (Jan. 30, 2013) – The Whitley County Sheriff’s Department and the Indiana Department of Child Services are encouraging community members to report incidents of suspected methamphetamine production and use. Whitley County is among those Indiana areas battling this illegal drug and the impact it’s having on Hoosier families.

According to the Sheriff’s department, 10 meth labs were seized in Whitley County in 2012 with 36 meth-related arrests.

“Meth use actually becomes a lifestyle and that addiction touches every aspect of a person’s life, ravaging physical and mental health, relationships and personal finances,” said detective Bill Brice, who stresses that meth use isn’t contained to any age group. “The meth problem has grown and now our drug task force officers are spending nearly eighty percent of their time dealing with it.” The drug controls the abuser so much they will often lose their home, personal possessions and even children to simply get high one more time.

Whitley County DCS Director Steve Weaver says meth use in the home increases the risk of child abuse and neglect. “Sadly, meth use can cause parents to neglect their children’s most basic needs. Parents abusing meth can stay high for an entire week. Meanwhile the house gets filthy, the refrigerator goes empty and children are forced to fend for themselves,” said Weaver. “The risk gets even worse when meth is produced in the home, where children are exposed to hazardous chemicals and possibly even fire or explosion.”

Brice, a member of the county’s drugs task force, says the Sheriff’s department relies heavily on the support and information local citizens provide about the use and production of meth.

He encourages anyone aware of meth activities or illegal drug use to make an anonymous report to the drug tip line at 260.248.3155. This number is answered by a dispatcher around the clock. “The best way citizens can help our community is to get involved. If you suspect illegal drug activity in your neighborhood, if you notice, for example, lots of visitors going into a house for very short stays, call and report your suspicions,” said Brice. “It’s virtually impossible for law enforcement officers to combat illegal drugs without the help of a concerned community.”

DCS must also rely on community members to help protect children. In Indiana, all citizens are required to report incidents of child abuse and neglect. “We look to neighbors, friends, family members and other community members as first responders in helping protect children,” said Weaver. Anyone suspecting abuse or neglect should contact the child abuse and neglect hotline at 800.800.5556.

About Indiana Department of Child Services:

DCS is committed to protecting children who are victims of abuse or neglect. The agency’s primary goal is to safely keep these children at home with their families by offering appropriate support services. If safety continues to be a concern, children are placed with relatives or in foster care.

DCS also oversees adoptions from the foster care system and manages the child support bureau. The Kids First Trust Fund, supported by the sale of ’Kids First’ specialty automobile license plates, subsidizes programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect. Indiana Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline: 800.800.5556 www.in.gov/dcs.

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