Drug-endangered children now protected by new protocol - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Drug-endangered children now protected by new protocol

By Justin Hanson - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

TIPTON COUNTY, TN (WMC-TV) - One Mid-South county is leading the way in how it responds when children are exposed to meth.

Meth lab clean ups in front yards and active meth labs found just feet away from a child's play area - they may sound far-fetched, but they are all too familiar for deputies in Tipton County.

"In the calendar year 2008, there were 13 meth lab seizures in Tipton County and that leads my district," District Attorney Mike Dunavant said.

But county officials hope they won't be in the top spot much longer. A new protocol signed Thursday outlines a coordinated response plan to follow when children are exposed to drugs.

"This problem knows no social-economic level, it knows no gender, it knows no race," said Bethany Kirby, with the Exchange Club-Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. 

"The thing about working as a team and having a protocol...it won't further traumatize children after they've been through so much coming from a drug endangered home," added Tipton County Sheriff Pancho Chumley.

From complaint to prosecution, the protocol gives a step-by-step plan to protect endangered children.  In one case last year, two parents were arrested for cooking meth inside a box used to hold breakfast pastries.

"I don't really care what their reason is, and a majority of Tipton Countians don't, because we don't want them in our county using drugs around our children and theirs," Chumley said.

"You can tell a lot by a civilized society by the way it treats its children," Dunavant added.

And protecting innocent children is a top priority thanks to a team effort.  The Department of Children's services is now responding to every scene where there's an endangered child. 

Police are also using pictures to document how badly the child was exposed to drugs.  Authorities say this is critical for them to be able to prosecute violators.    

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