Dr. Danielle L. Fettes of the University of California, San Diego reported that the child welfare system in the United States has failed teens at risk for drug abuse by not coordinating proven prevention techniques within the child welfare system and by not involving the criminal justice system early enough. The research was published in the Nov. 4, 2013, issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Dr. Fettes based her conclusions on data from two national health surveys. One survey looked at 730 individuals in the child welfare system between the ages of 12 and 14 and the other included 4,445 children in the same age group from the general population of the United States.
Four percent more teens in the welfare system admitted to ever smoking marijuana than teens in the general population. Twice as many teens in the welfare system abused inhalants. Two percent more of teens in the child welfare system used heroin or cocaine than teens in the general population. Forty percent of teens in the welfare system admitted to having consumed alcohol by the age of 14.
The alcohol consumption is a new and significant fact that indicates that alcohol is readily available to teens that are involved in the child welfare system.
Dr. Fettes claims that parental involvement in the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse by young teens in the child welfare system is the first line of defense. She also indicates that there is little communication between the child welfare system and parents.