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Drug-related child abuse rising in state

Monday, October 17, 2005

Drug-related child abuse in Iowa is on the rise, according to a study released Thursday by a children's advocacy group.

The report, from Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, divided the abuse into two categories, the first centered on cases where an illegal drug is present in a child's body because of the action of their parents or caretaker.

Last year, nearly 10 percent of Iowa's confirmed child abuse cases - or 1,713 cases - fell into that category. That's a 150 percent increase from 2001, the study said.

The second category included cases where a parent or caretaker is discovered making methamphetamine in the presence of a child. Last year, the Iowa Department of Human Services confirmed 299 such cases - more than double the number in 2001. That's about 1.7 percent of all abuse cases, the group said.

Prevent Child Abuse Iowa said the findings highlight the need for more efforts to protect children from parents who use illegal drugs, especially meth.

Stephen Scott, the organization's executive director, said the study was conducted in the wake of the state's new meth law, which restricts access to a common cold medicine used to manufacture meth. The law has been credited with drastically decreasing the number of clandestine meth labs in Iowa.

Through August, 99 child abuse cases in Iowa involved children who were present when meth was being produced, according to the Department of Human Services. Last year 299 such cases were reported. In 2002 and 2003 DHS confirmed almost 700 cases.

The short-term decrease should not discredit the study's findings, said DHS spokesman Roger Munns, whose department provided statistics for the study.



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