Kids, swings, parks and needles don’t mix
My kids love playing in parks – I think every kid does.
Swings, slides and see-saws can sometimes be a God-send for parents who need a break.
Tell the kids to go off and play and if you’re lucky, there could be five minutes of freedom in it for you too.
Recently I took my kids to a park not unlike any other. As I watched them race off and begin to climb up the stairs of the cubby house with the fireman’s pole and yellow slippery dip, I was content that they’d entertain themselves for a while.
Not so! As their heads disappeared beneath the wooden walls of the cubby house, their sudden silence alerted me that something wasn’t right. I climbed up the wooden ladder. “Look what’s here Daddy!” one of them exclaimed with curiosity.
An empty lighter, the torn off base of a coke can and lastly, syringe parts. Some junkies must have shot up, I thought, How could they shoot up in a kids cubby house? I was furious as I ushered the kids down from the house and went about cleaning up the mess. Why was their addiction suddenly my problem?
I’ve always tried to be realistic in my opinion of drug abusers since I’m well aware that the very public and legal use of alcohol has the same if not greater effect on families and the community as a whole.
There are many reasons why people become chronic drug users and while it’s easy to sit back and judge, the somewhat controversial injection room in Sydneys King Cross shows that the broader community has developed a greater understanding of the complexities associated with addictions.
Unfortunately there was no injection room near the park cubby house! It bothered me and got me thinking. I was worried about my children’s safety and about how someone else’s addiction might impact on their lives, then it occurred to me, what about the children of the drug users? What environment are they exposed?
The last survey in Australia found that more than 230,000 children live with at least one adult binge drinker. More than 40000 children live with an adult who takes cannabis daily and more than 14,000 children live with an adult who uses methamphetamines monthly.
Those are staggering numbers. The report went on to say that children exposed to substance abuse may develop behavioural problems that often results in them quitting school or engaging in crime or drug abuse themselves at a young age. It seems like a vicious cycle.
Coincidentally, in the papers today there is an article about a US based organization called Project Prevention. It’s mantra is that both male and female addicts are not fit to breed and is therefore offering around $322 in exchange for sterilization and vasectomies respectively.
In America already around 3500 drug addicts have been paid not to have children and the controversial charity has this week secured it’s first UK volunteer. I wonder if it’ll set it’s sights on Australian shores? Surely this is exploitation?
My heart goes out to any child who has a tough up-bringing but come on – is this for real? Paying addicts to become sterilized? Surely it’s self-serving for the charity who appears to have a personal grudge against these kinds of people.
Addicts in need of a fix are easy targets for a scheme like this and it does nothing in reducing their dependency for whatever it is that they crave. It’s also incredibly narrow-minded. Is it because drug and alcohol users are so visible that they’re such easy targets?
Should the same cash payment be offered out to people with explosive tendencies towards violence, with excessive criminal records or those with a psychological imbalance? Children can experience neglect and abuse in many more ways than just through a parent with an addiction.
I’m not suggesting that financial schemes and initiatives aren’t good ideas, but in return for sterilization? How extreme and absolutely demeaning. It’s getting people at their most vulnerable – what if they’re young adults who’ve fallen down the wrong road, are they not entitled to turn their lives around?
I was angry about finding the drug users dregs in a children’s park but I reckon that Project Prevention’s scheme angered me even more…
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