Child neglect due to substance abuse on the rise in the Piedmont

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DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- In 2014, there were more than 1400 investigations of child neglect in Davidson County.

According to a new report authored by Davidson County's Community Child Protection Team and the Child Fatality Prevention Team, the cause for more than half of those investigations was substance abuse by the parents.

Kathy Hitchcock, an author of the report and a social worker with Child Protective Services, said that parental substance abuse as a cause for child neglect is on the rise. She and her colleagues are particularly concerned about heroin.

"The results for families in our county have been devastating," Hitchcock said. "I cannot stress enough how bad the problem of substance abuse is for children in our county."

Because April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Hitchock and her colleagues will prevent the findings of their report at the April 2 County Commissioners meeting.

Hitchcock said the Department of Social Services is partnering with schools, law enforcement and medical doctors to develop community solutions to the high numbers of child neglect.

"We have parents who do not get up and take care of their kids," Hitchcock said. "Parents who pass out in cars with needles in their arms. The power of the addiction of these drugs is so strong that even the thought of losing your children cannot keep you away from this addiction."

In Rockingham County, the Department of Social Services says they, too, see a trend of child neglect stemming from substance abuse. In 2014, thy had 503 total investigations for child neglect. From those investigations, 63 children came into custody of the DSS, and nearly half of those children came from homes were substance abuse was an issue.

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