Strong majority support starting child neglect cases if a parent is addicted to opiates - 731 participants

Apr 24, 2016

On April 21, the House of Representatives voted in favor of SB 515, a bill that establishes a parent’s opioid addiction as evidence of child neglect. Current law requires other evidence of harm to the child before a finding of neglect. Read more about this issue. On April 24, the LFDA decided to put the issue to its Facebook members, posting the question, “Should a parent's opioid addiction be sufficient reason to start a child neglect case, without other evidence of harm to the child?”

“Should a parent's opioid addiction be sufficient reason to start a child neglect case, without other evidence of harm to the child?”

Results: Yes or No Respondents

Opioid Addiction and Child Neglect NH Citizen Voices Chart

Participation: 731 participants gave 1,856 responses

A total of 83% of those participating gave a 'yes or no' response to the question. The remaining 17% of participants engaged in the discussion but did not give a yes or no response. In total, the LFDA received 1,856 responses from 731 individuals. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

What Participants Said:

Yes: A majority, at 71% of ‘yes or no’ respondents, were in favor of starting a child neglect case if a parent was addicted to opiates, without other evidence of harm to the child.

  • "I have yet to have met a parent with opioid addiction that is able to focus on their children properly. Basic tasks like providing a roof over their heads eventually become impossible.”
  • “My father became an addict if heroin and I never knew him until I was 14 and almost died from an eating disorder. When u put your own selfish needs before your child, that's when it becomes neglect.”
  • “If you understand the long-term, large dose, and withdrawal side effects of opioids, then you'll understand how it can cause one to neglect themselves and others. I think that is reason enough to investigate and make sure they are not letting the addiction harm their children.”

No: The minority of ‘yes or no’ respondents, at 29%, opposed starting a child neglect case if a parent was addicted to opiates, without other evidence of harm to the child.

  • “Unless the child's needs are not being met, the child is exposed to the drug/drug use, or the parent is far enough gone and selling belongings, leaving for days or weeks at a time, stealing, or has overdosed, it's in the child's best interest to stay with his or her family.”
  • “Whatever the issue, there first needs to be actual child neglect to start this process.”
  • “I grew up with parents that are addicts and I was never abused or neglected. I was still loved and well fed and have lots of great memories. Everyone self-medicates in their own way.”

Other: As noted above, 17% of those participating did not give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to related questions and issues. These included:

  • Debating the causal link between drug addiction itself and child neglect: “I've never seen a pot smoker abuse any of their kids. I was on an opiate for a long time because of a bad back surgery, but I never abused my kids from it.”
  • Discussing the general role of the government: “Which addition? Coffee, tobacco, pot, alcohol, mood stabilizers? Exactly how much control are we talking about giving the government over our lives?”
  • Questioning many parents’ ability to provide a safe environment: “I agree that an addicted parent can't provide proper care for their children, but there are a lot of parents that are alcoholics or just don't provide for their children because they are products of their environment."

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 

Know someone who would be interested in these results? Forward them the summary version of this report. 

Should a parent's opioid addiction be sufficient reason to start a child neglect case, without other evidence of harm to the child?? Leave a comment and have your say! 

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Related Bill

SB 515 (2016)
Bill Status: Signed by Governor

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