Drug Abuse During Pregnancy Essay, Research Paper
Child maltreatment is defined as intentional harm to or avoidable endangerment of, anyone less than 18 years of age. Thus, child maltreatment includes both abuse-deliberate action that is harmful to a child s well being-and neglect-failure to appropriately meet a child s basic needs. An 18-year-old mother that is using drugs during pregnancy is guilty of child abuse and neglect. A baby does not have the option of saying Mommy I don t feel like getting high today. It is a mother s responsibility to love and nurture a child while it is in her womb.
A mother that endangers the well-being and life of her child as well as themselves should not be allowed to parent that child after it is born. On the other side of the coin, how can a mother that has used abused drugs throughout her pregnancy take care of a baby if she is going to be high all the time? She will not all of a sudden get a conscience after the child is born and decide to become a good, loving, nurturing parent. It did not happen during the nine months of pregnancy, it wouldn t happen after the child is born. Also, with the child being born deformed and mentally handicapped, there is way this mother is capable of providing adequate care. The mother will more than likely suffer a lot of guilt at seeing what she has done to her baby. A special needs baby will need a lot of care which will also put a lot of emotional strain on the mother, which will lead to increased drug use. I think the right thing to do would be to have responsible relatives look after the baby until the mother can enter some type of substance abuse treatment which can often take years. Some expert s feel that drug treatments will succeed is tremendously increased if mothers are allowed to keep their children. Society and the experts are divided on this controversial issue.
Does society have any say on the conduct of a mother s private life with her child? I say yes. It is no longer a private issue, when an innocent baby is harmed, in utero, from maternal drug use. As I stated before a baby does not have the option of telling his mother he does not want to get high anymore. When that baby is born addicted to drugs, he is in for a long hospital stay. Newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) show increased sensitivity to noise, irritability, poor coordination, excessive sneezing and yawning, and uncoordinated sucking and swallowing reflexes. If these symptoms persist, the infants require medication. Researchers are testing carefully controlled doses of Phenobarbital, tincture of opium, and other substances to help infants withdraw from narcotics. It is the lesser of the evils-substituting one drug for another. Is this any way to start out life?
Another concern is, after the child is born with numerous physical and emotional problems, it will become a social welfare issue; the mother is going to require assistance from some family service agency to provide assistance for herself and her child. If the mother is provided with cash assistance will she use the money to care for the baby? If the baby needs specialized treatments will the mother be responsible enough to provide the treatments? Taxpayers pay for these services. Not only will the child need special services while he is an infant, he will most likely need services well into the school age years. Doctors now know that infants exposed to drugs in the womb suffer long-term deficits in the mental or neurological functioning. These children seem to run the increased risk of learning disabilities and delayed motor, speech, and language development. The thing society really needs to take a hard look at are some ways of effectively preventing drug dependency. Is sterilization the answer? Should these mother s having drug addicted babies be punished at 18 with something as permanent as sterilization? I will say no. I have heard about a lot of people beating drugs and go on to live productive lives. But, I am in favor of long-term contraception such as Norplant, which is a five-year birth control. Some other conditions I would put into place would be mandatory psychotherapy to include medication. Psychotherapy will help a young woman try and figure out why she is using drugs to begin with. In a lot of cases, People that use drugs are self-medicating, are doing so to mask the pain of some hurt. A psychologist might be useful in helping a young woman find out the underlying, or unresolved issues in her life that are causing her to use drugs. Once the substance abuse is no longer and issue some parenting classes should be taken, this should also be one of the conditions of the mother getting her child returned to her full-time. I would suggest a human development class, a psychology class and some parenting classes. I suggest the psychology and human development classes to help the young mom find out why we (humans) do the things we do, act the way we act, and think the way we think. The human development class will help in understanding how we grow and develop. Especially for a teenager it would be helpful to know that some feelings and emotions that teens experience is quite normal such as mild depression and mood swings.
The next requirement would be to perform community service at a facility for the mentally and physically challenged. This will allow a user to see the impact that drug abuse has on not only a mother but the child and whoever the care takers are. Let her experience first hand what it is like to take care of a disable child. This will also prepares the mother when she has her child returned to her, she will have some idea of what is to be expected of her. The last mandatory condition would be to have random drug screenings. This will hopefully help in the mother s quest to stay drug free. So you see, one way or the other society does pay for the transgressions of these drug-addicted mothers. Removing the child from the mother is only a band-aid solution. What has to take place is education. And education should start at a young age.