Drug addiction has quickly become a major problem in Knox County. Overdoses are responsible for more deaths than both car wrecks and guns. At the November Town Hall meeting, members of Operation UNITE spoke on the effects of drug abuse on children.
According to Knox County Operation UNITE Chair Claudia Greenwood, the average age that children first try drugs is 11 years old.
“That just amazes me,” said Greenwood, “That means there are children trying drugs around the age of eight.”
UNITE encourages parents and guardians to talk to their children, “according to research,” continued Greenwood, “parents still influence their kids more than anyone else.”
Knox County as a whole is also taking steps to help children cope with drug abuse.
“Knox County will be a pilot county for the Handle With Care program,” announced Greenwood.
Through the Handle With Care program, schools will be notified if law enforcement is called out to a child’s house the day before, so school officials will be aware if the child is distressed and will be better prepared to handle the situation. Details of the visit will not be released, only the fact that officials were called to the residence.
Officials are hoping to break the chain of addiction.
“I’ve been doing this job for five to six years now,” said Joanne Sizemore, a social worker out of the London DPA office, “and clients seem to be getting younger and younger. I encourage anyone who works with children to be attentive. If you have suspicions, don’t hesitate to make that call to Social Services.”