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Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) List Serve

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Welcome to the database of past Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) list serve messages (10,000+). The table below contains all past CMRL messages (text only, no attachments) from Nov. 20, 1996 - September 14, 2018 and is updated quarterly.

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Message ID: 9460
Date: 2013-08-01

Author:Edward Opton

Subject:RE: Positive Drug Screens

I believe that a mountain of evidence indicates that alcohol use by parents causes far more harm to their children, via multiple paths, than all other drugs combined. The fact that some drugs are illegal, some quasi-legal (marijuana in some states), and some completely legal (ethyl alcohol, at least for parents 18+ years old) is irrelevant to child welfare issues. If a child welfare agency does not have a policy of taking into care infants whose mothers expose them to alcohol during pregnancy, it would be illogical, hypocritical, and plain wrong to have a policy of taking infants into care just because they were exposed to other chemicals such as drugs. It would be especially wrong because the maximum risk is from exposure early in pregnancy, which will not be detected at birth, rather than exposure in the final weeks of pregnancy. I fully appreciate the high correlation between drug use and child neglect and abuse. But when children are neglected or abused, risk can be evaluated on the basis of those relevant factors alone: neglect and abuse. We should be especially wary of breaking up families because drug use can be measured objectively and impersonally, while evaluation of abuse and neglect require the exercise of human judgment. To make decisions that ruin people’s lives is a heavy moral burden. It is immensely tempting to evade that burden by turning the decision over to an agency policy (impersonal) and a laboratory test (impersonal). Then we can say, “I’m sorry, but the policy and the laboratory test leaves me no choice . . . .” That sort of institutional evasion of the responsibility to exercise judgment in making decisions is highly tempting. It is very easy, which is why it is so popular. But, in my opinion, it is profoundly, fundamentally, and morally wrong. Edward Opton, Ph.D., J.D. From: bounce-104636866-12782768@list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-104636866-12782768@list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Madrid, Joseph A., CYFD Sent: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 9:33 AM To: child-maltreatment-research-L@cornell.edu Subject: Positive Drug Screens I am hoping to get some information about how states are handling drug exposed infants, particularly now that the use of marijuana is legal in some states and some states have legalized medical marijuana as we have here in New Mexico. We began substantiating all allegations regarding drug exposed infants after our second round of the Child and Family Services Review. Some questions my colleagues brought up are, would we treat this the same way if a baby was born positive for Opiates and mom had a valid prescription? Did medical professionals report that the infant was physically affected by the exposure? I have yet to have a physician write a letter for a client supporting the ongoing use of any drug, prescription or otherwise, while pregnant. Any information you are willing to provide will be most helpful. Joseph Madrid, MSW, LISW County Office Manager East Bernalillo County Investigations/IHS 300 San Mateo Blvd. NE Albuquerque, NM 87108 841-4707 (office)/280-7180 (cell) 505-841-2933 (fax) Confidentiality Notice: This e-mail, including all attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited unless specifically provided for under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender and destroy all copies of this message.

I believe that a mountain of evidence indicates that alcohol use by parents causes far more harm to their children, via multiple paths, than all other drugs combined. The fact that some drugs are illegal, some quasi-legal (marijuana in some states), and some completely legal (ethyl alcohol, at least for parents 18+ years old) is irrelevant to child welfare issues. If a child welfare agency does not have a policy of taking into care infants whose mothers expose them to alcohol during pregnancy, it would be illogical, hypocritical, and plain wrong to have a policy of taking infants into care just because they were exposed to other chemicals such as drugs. It would be especially wrong because the maximum risk is from exposure early in pregnancy, which will not be detected at birth, rather than exposure in the final weeks of pregnancy. I fully appreciate the high correlation between drug use and child neglect and abuse. But when children are neglected or abused, risk can be evaluated on the basis of those relevant factors alone: neglect and abuse. We should be especially wary of breaking up families because drug use can be measured objectively and impersonally, while evaluation of abuse and neglect require the exercise of human judgment. To make decisions that ruin people’s lives is a heavy moral burden. It is immensely tempting to evade that burden by turning the decision over to an agency policy (impersonal) and a laboratory test (impersonal). Then we can say, “I’m sorry, but the policy and the laboratory test leaves me no choice . . . .” That sort of institutional evasion of the responsibility to exercise judgment in making decisions is highly tempting. It is very easy, which is why it is so popular. But, in my opinion, it is profoundly, fundamentally, and morally wrong. Edward Opton, Ph.D., J.D. From: bounce-104636866-12782768list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-104636866-12782768list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Madrid, Joseph A., CYFD Sent: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 9:33 AM To: child-maltreatment-research-Lcornell.edu Subject: Positive Drug Screens I am hoping to get some information about how states are handling drug exposed infants, particularly now that the use of marijuana is legal in some states and some states have legalized medical marijuana as we have here in New Mexico. We began substantiating all allegations regarding drug exposed infants after our second round of the Child and Family Services Review. Some questions my colleagues brought up are, would we treat this the same way if a baby was born positive for Opiates and mom had a valid prescription? Did medical professionals report that the infant was physically affected by the exposure? I have yet to have a physician write a letter for a client supporting the ongoing use of any drug, prescription or otherwise, while pregnant. Any information you are willing to provide will be most helpful. Joseph Madrid, MSW, LISW County Office Manager East Bernalillo County Investigations/IHS 300 San Mateo Blvd. NE Albuquerque, NM 87108 841-4707 (office)/280-7180 (cell) 505-841-2933 (fax) Confidentiality Notice: This e-mail, including all attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited unless specifically provided for under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender and destroy all copies of this message.