Parental Rights Can Be Forfeited

Twice during a period of less than a week, local police officers have had to rescue children from drug-using parents. Efforts should be made to keep the children from going back to the same environments.

Last week, Wheeling police were called to a house where they found a man asleep on a couch. Outside, his 18-month-old daughter, drenched in sweat, was asleep in a car.

According to a report, the man had both heroin and marijuana in his system at the time.

Then, on Saturday, Moundsville police went to a motel where a couple from southern West Virginia was staying with their child. Medical personnel had to help revive the passed-out father. Heroin and marijuana were found in the room.

In the first case, the little girl was turned over to Child Protective Services. In the second situation, the child was released to a family member.

Child neglect charges were filed in both cases.

Eventually, both children may be returned to their parents. Let us hope fervently that in the interim, the adults have seen the great danger of their ways – and gotten clean and sober.

With both alcohol and other intoxicating drugs, abusers place themselves at risk. But obviously, there is even greater potential for harm to come to their children.

Each year in West Virginia, hundreds of children are removed from abusive and/or neglectful parents. No thoughtful law enforcement officer, social worker or judge likes to do that. Youngsters ought to be able to grow up in homes with mothers and fathers.

But when mom and dad worry more about their next fix or their next drink than about their children, the authorities should take a hard, inflexible line: No child – not either of those cited above or any other little girl or boy taken from drug-addled parents – should ever be returned to the custody of adults who cannot be trusted to take care of them.