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Study elicits 'child's eye' view of methamphetamine abuse and its effects

The children's stories are distressing: They had been left alone and hungry for days, were physically abused, forced to get high, told to steal from loved ones and to lie to authorities, and they had seen their parents "hyper" and delusional.

They had been traumatized, many of them, but they had also been resourceful and resilient. All had been taken from their rural homes and were now in foster care, with some struggling to adjust and some doing remarkably well.

They are the children of methamphetamine users, and they were the subject of a study, apparently the first, to get a child's-eye view of what happens in these families and how it affects the children.

"We're not aware of other studies that look at the effects of being reared in a methamphetamine-involved family on children's psychological development," said Wendy Haight, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the lead researcher.

The study will be published in the journal Children and Youth Services Review (CYSR) and is available online at http://www.childwelfare.com/kids/cysr.htm.

The aim of the study was to gather information that could help these children and others like them in the often-difficult adjustment to foster care and beyond, Haight said.

"We want to help foster parents understand more about what the child has gone through," said study co-author Teresa Ostler, a social work professor at Illinois who specializes in clinical psychology. "A lot of it involves experiences of trauma, where the child needs huge help in putting things together and in making sense, in knowing that their feelings have reasons."

The study involved 18 children, ages 7-14, from 12 families. All were involved with the child-welfare system because of their parents' methamphetamine abuse. At the time of their interviews, they had been in foster care anywhere from five to 39
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Contact: Craig Chamberlain, News Editor
cdchambe@uiuc.edu
217-333-2894
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
12-Jun-2006


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