Yesterday, a 25-year-old Globe woman, coming down from a methamphetamine binge, forgot her 5-month-old baby was in her minivan.
As Rendi Garcia and her 14-year-old friend lay passed out in her home, her baby was dying ... and two other children wandered around the home, fending for themselves.
Garcia is the mother of six, ranging from four-months to 8 years old. Child Protective Services has been watching her since 1998, but let the children remain in her care in their effort to preserve the family.
Garcia has previous child neglect and drug charges -- yet, authorities deemed her fit enough to care for her six young ones.
Gila County Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill said he has never seen anything so damaging as meth. He said our communities are looking at a whole new ballgame when it comes to this particular drug.
The euphoric high that meth produces rivals heroin, but is cheaper and easier to come by. So powerful is the effect on brain chemistry, that those addicted will do anything to get more -- steal, kill, sell their bodies and sacrifice the welfare of their own children.
A whole generation of children are coming into a world without parents. While they may be physically present, their love and devotion is to a drug. Studies reveal that infants may suffer long-term effects when their caretaker bonds with a drug rather than with them.
While Garcia was passed out in her home, a family member and a childcare provider stopped by ... and did nothing. Only because Garcia forgot to pick up one of her children from school, did CPS happen to stop by and make the horrific discovery.
No doubt, when this case is investigated, CPS will be scrutinized. Questions will arise as to why Garcia was allowed to keep her children -- why her family and others failed to take action.
Clearly, this drug is taking a huge toll on our society during a time when programs like DARE are being cut from school curriculum and low-cost treatment centers are facing budget cuts.
The cost of treatment is often prohibitive. Many are forced to detox behind bars, after they've been caught in possession of the drug or committed a crime while under the influence of meth -- or in a desperate attempt to get more.
The incredibly addictive nature of meth makes drug education and prevention approaches even more important. We have to find the resources to keep programs running because society cannot afford to sacrifice more children to meth.