Substance Abuse and Child Maltreatment


SubstanceAbuse and Child Maltreatment


Thepaper focuses on Kathryn Wells article SubstanceAbuse and Child Maltreatmentpublished in 2009. The study indicates that substance abuse amongcaregivers has a direct linkage with child maltreatment in differentways. Abusing drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine, alcohol,cocaine, and heroine among others is risky for the child. It is vitalfor pediatricians to comprehend such risks considering that they playa significant responsibility in caring for the children. According toresearch, parents who abuse drugs have a high probability of abusingor neglecting their children compared to the children of non-abusers.Child maltreatment includes various aspects as physical abuse andneglect among other forms. A study conducted by Rein and colleaguesshowed that these forms of maltreatment result in two thirds of theentire cases of children ill-treatment casualties. Wells (2009)points out that there is the likelihood of prenatal drug exposure andenvironmental dangers. While impaired, it is difficult for caregiversto offer constant care, guidance or supervision required by thechildren.

Inthis case, there is the need for general management of childrenexposed to drug abuse environments. It includes physical examination,testing, treatment as well as reporting. In a nutshell, the pervasivesocial concern of substance abuse, which leads to child mistreatment,should be addressed using a multidisciplinary approach. It shouldintegrate efforts from various disciplines encompassing probationoffices, the medical community, law enforcement organizations,educational organizations and nonprofit organizations among others.The National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children puts forward thatcommunity based partnerships should be formed in order to solve theissue.

Critiqueand Discussion

Asevidenced in the study, it is true that children cared for by parentswho are substance abusers have a high likelihood of being abused orneglected. Such parents expose their children to various risks asthey lack the capacity to guide, encourage, supervise, or offerconstant care to their children. In this regard, Wells proposes theformation of partnerships by various organizations in order to solvethe issue. This is supported by the National Child Welfare WorkforceInstitute (NCWWI) whose mandate is to amplify child wellbeingpractice efficiency via various partnerships that center on thedevelopment of workforce systems, change leadership, as well asorganizational interventions (NCWWI, 2015). The agency employseducation, capacity building, and development activities whichsupport learning, leading, and changing. Wells proposal is also inline with NASW collaboration standard that calls forinterorganizational and interdisciplinary collaboration in order tosupport improve, and provide efficient services to children (NASW,2013).

Wellshas also pointed out that proper interventions should be put in placeto help children who are brought up by caregivers who are abusers.This is important in order to break the addiction cycle. In thiscase, social workers who practice in child welfare should takeresponsibility and act in the best interest of the children. However,they should be guided by the NASW Codeof Ethics, particularlywhen administrative duties and legal guidelines are in conflict(NASW, 2013).

Fromthe study, the author has proposed the employment of child protectiveservices in order to ensure child welfare. They should team up withmedical providers and advocate for the needs of the families whileguaranteeing the accessibility and utilization of essential services.She also encourages reporting of child abuse cases to the relevantparties. This is in line with the NASW advocacy standard thatrequires social workers to support system reforms in order to enhanceservices extended to children.

Additionally,the study advocates for general management of children thatencompasses physical examination, drug testing and treatment. Thiscorresponds to NASW assessment standard that requires social workersto carry out a preliminary and inclusive assessment of both the childand the family with the purpose of obtaining vital information.


NationalAssociation of Social Workers (NASW) (2013). NASWStandards for social work practice in child welfare.

NationalChild Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI). (2015). Officialwebsite.Retrieved from

Wells,K. (2009). Substance abuse and child maltreatment. PediatrClin N Am56: 345–362.