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Child abuse law needs strengthening

Published 2:29pm Thursday, December 1, 2011

Upon the birth of a child, parents are not blessed with a set of operating instructions. Instead they must rely on natural instincts, those involving proper care as well as undertaking measures that ensure the safety of their child at all costs.

An article published in this newspaper on Tuesday made many readers stop in their tracks and shake their heads in disbelief. The mother and father of a three-year-old were arrested after their child was tested positive for cocaine inside his tiny system.

While neither parent would admit to possessing any type of illegal drug, the fact remains that an innocent child ingested cocaine, according to the results of a urine test administered by Emergency Room staffers atRoanoke-ChowanHospital.

To compound the matter, the child’s mother told a Hertford County Sheriff’s investigator that she was unaware of how her child showed up in the yard of her mother’s home in Murfreesboro. The investigation revealed that the child, who was earlier cared for by his father on Nov. 11 while the mother was at work, wound up with at least two other adult women before being spotted playing with other children in the yard of his grandmother.
This whole ordeal is sad, but what is perhaps most troubling is the lack of proper punishment for the adults in this torrid tale. The parents were charged with non-assaultive child abuse, a misdemeanor. According to the way the law is written that is the only charge local law enforcement officials were able to lodge against the parents.

We would encourage our local members of the North Carolina General Assembly to introduce legislation that toughens the letter of the law when it involves illegal drugs and innocent youngsters. The future safety of all children is riding on this.

- The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

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