DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Methamphetamine has been the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s top submitted drug for the last two years. And in Dickson County, it’s also the leading narcotic endangering children.
The Dickson County Sheriff’s Office said detectives are working on average of two cases a month for kids with drugs in their homes.
“Usually when we’re getting kids testing positive on hair follicle exams, a lot of times they’re under the age of 10,” Detective Sarah McCartney said.
McCartney said there are also a number of newborns addicted to drugs because mothers use while pregnant.
“Sometimes we have heroin, sometimes we have marijuana, but what we see mostly is methamphetamine,” McCartney said.
The Sheriff’s Department said it can charge parents if serious drugs are involved with aggravated child abuse and neglect.
“It’s not really that they’re getting access it’s just that the drugs are being used in front of them. So the smoke inhalation or powder substance, if they crawl through it or something like that it gets into their system and they test positive,” McCartney said.
The Drug Free Dickson Coalition said since 2019 there has been a significant rise in drug endangered children. But from January to May of this year 166 kids have been exposed.
“Sometimes they’ll say something at school that a teacher thinks is off and a teacher will make a DCS referral. And that’s how we get involved a lot of times. Sometimes it’s a family member outside the home that knows there’s a problem,” McCartney said.
And it’s heartbreaking to see the conditions some of the children are living in.
“There’s been cases where law enforcement has responded to a house, parents were abusing heroin, and they found used needles on the table. One of those used needles happened to be broken off and the other end of the needle was found in the child,” Coalition Drug Endangered Children Response Coordinator Spencer Earhart said.
Earhart said the goal of the coalition is to provide resources to any child found to be in dangerous situations within their homes because of narcotics.
“That’s primarily what we’re concerned with is trying to encounter these children and get them out of those situations so we can provide an environment where they can thrive,” Earhart said.
The ultimate goal, McCartney said, is to reunite parents with their children. But each parent must cooperate with the Department of Children’s Services plan, following a series of steps, to regain custody of their children.