Officials: meth is a serious threat to kids

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

In the whirlwind of drug busts, arrests and convictions that surround methamphetamines in Shelby County, consideration for one group of people has been brushed under the rug: children.

According to law enforcement officials from Alabama and Shelby County, children often fall victims to abuse and neglect because of a relative’s involvement with the creation and trafficking of methamphetamine.

&uot;Children are being held hostage in the midst of toxic chemicals and dangerous criminals,&uot; Alabama Attorney General Troy King said. &uot;Alabama is suffering the tragic results of the rampant illegal mixing of hazardous substances to create methamphetamine.&uot;

Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry agreed with King, saying he believes children are often overlooked as victims of meth crimes.

&uot;What we’re seeing with meth arrests in the county is that children are being exposed to highly volatile chemicals,&uot; he said.

Curry said that the first methamphetamine case he was involved with in the county was a perfect example of how often children fall victim to the drug.

&uot;The meth lab that we broke up was located on the kitchen counter of a home in Calera,&uot; Curry said. &uot;There were children living in the home as well and their breakfast was lying on the counter alongside the lab materials.&uot;

Curry said that in addition to being exposed to dangerous chemicals, many children are abused and mistreated as a result of a family member using the drug.

&uot;Many people who manufacture methamphetamines are also users,&uot; he said. &uot;Using meth can result in bizarre behavior and paranoia that can put a child near that person in danger.&uot;

The Alabama state legislature voted in May to restrict the distribution of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, over-the-counter medications that can be used to create meth, in hopes that such a law will help in the battle to rid the state of the drug. Alongside the pharmacy bill, Attorney General King also hoped to pass a bill that would crack down on people who put children in harm’s way. The bill failed to pass, however.

&uot;I regret that the legislature did not pass the bill that would have given tougher penalties for endangering children through exposure to methamphetamine labs,&uot; King said. &uot;I promise the families of Alabama that I will lead law enforcement in using tools that we have to fight against the proliferation of methamphetamines and meth-related crimes.&uot;