Meth and the Newspaper

I tried posting a comment last week over at Tim McGivern’s blog, but it seems to be caught up in some moderation queue either technological or human, so I thought I’d throw this up here instead.

Tim took a shot at the Journal for its “feckless” coverage of the meth problem. My comment was that one can always criticize the newspaper for not doing enough about any important issue, but it’s not fair to suggest, as Tim seems to want to, that the Journal’s ignoring it. The paper had a front page package (see also this – sorry, sub. req.) on Sunday, Oct. 23 (front page Sunday package = the prime newspaper real estate) by Leann Holt on the subject that was incredibly powerful and moving:

Kim is intimately acquainted with the horrors of methamphetamine use. The 23-year-old discovered the burned, lifeless body of her 5-month-old son after waking from a drug-induced stupor one morning almost two years ago.

Sometime during the previous night, the baby had rolled off a bed and onto a space heater. His charred blanket was still wrapped around him when his mother found him. She never heard him cry.

Kim is serving seven years in prison for her son’s death. Her other two children, ages 7 and 5, are being adopted by her mother.
“I want people to know what meth does,” the sobbing young woman said during a telephone interview from Grants Correctional Facility. “I want them to know what it leads up to. It brought me nothing but trouble.”

The number of children in state custody has risen by 21 percent over the last 18 months— and state officials blame the use and production of methamphetamine for most of that increase.

Officials say the abuse and neglect children suffer in a home with meth is much worse than with other drugs.
Sexual abuse is common.

Homes mired in extraordinary filth and riddled with dangerous chemicals are to be expected when meth is involved, said State Police officer Donald Garrison.

“These children are living in houses not even suitable for animals,” he said.

“Deplorable filth, loaded weapons, chemicals and pornography are almost trademarks of a meth house,” said Rey Martinez, a professor and researcher at Highlands University who is studying the effects of meth on children.

That’s about as not feckless as a newspaper story could be.