The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department and the Indiana Department of Child Services are encouraging community members to report incidents of suspected methamphetamine production and use. Kosciusko County is among those Indiana areas battling a high number of meth labs, along with a rise in illegal prescription drug use.
“No one is excluded from the addictive nature of meth,” said Sheriff Rocky Goshert, who stresses that meth use isn’t contained to any age group. “The drug controls the abuser so much that they will often lose their home, personal possessions and even children to simply get high one more additional time.”
Goshert says his department heavily relies on the support and information local citizens provide about the use and production of meth. In about 10 percent of Kosciusko’s meth investigations, children are found in the home.
Local DCS Director Erin Shidler says meth use in the home escalates the risk of child abuse and neglect, and child endangerment. “Sadly, meth use can cause parents to neglect their children’s most basic needs, like safe supervision, being fed, and general health and hygiene,” said Shilder. “The risk gets even worse when meth is produced in the home, where children are exposed to hazardous chemicals and possibly even fire or explosion.”
Like Goshert’s department, DCS must also rely on community members to help protect children. In Indiana, all citizens are required to report incidents of child abuse and neglect. “We look at neighbors, friends, family members and other community members as first responders in helping protect children,” said Shidler. Anyone suspecting abuse or neglect should contact the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556.
Goshert encourages anyone aware of meth activities or illegal drug use to make an anonymous report to 574-372-2494, which does not track caller ID.
“The best way that citizens can help our community is to get involved and call local law enforcement,” said Goshert. Kosciusko County residents can also visit www.killingacommunity.com to learn more about identifying meth use, production and abuse.
DCS is committed to protecting children who are victims of abuse or neglect. The agency’s primary goal is to safely keep these children at home with their families by offering appropriate support services. If safety continues to be a concern, children are placed with relatives or in foster care.
DCS also oversees adoptions from the foster care system and manages the child support bureau. The Kids First Trust Fund, supported by the sale of ‘Kids First’ specialty automobile license plates, subsidizes programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect.