The youngest victims of crime in Los Angeles County are children and youth, and parental substance use disorders are often involved. Addiction in a family can often lead to child neglect, abuse, and other crimes.
Did you know that L.A. County has the largest child protective services agency in the nation? There are more than 35,000 open cases at any one time across 88 cities here. In 2018, 59% of all the open cases overseen by L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) involved substance use issues. .
The truth is American is in the midst of an addiction crisis. Of 2,199 California opioid overdose deaths in 2017, 22% were in L.A. County: the highest rate by far of any California county. Opioid overdose is the leading cause of death for people released from L.A. County jails (America’s largest jail system), and the second leading cause of death for homeless people here. As in other areas of America, meth use in L.A. County has risen 30% since 2014, with a 798% increase in co-occurring meth and opioid use. In addition, over 25% of L.A. County driving deaths involve alcohol.
These statistics provide many paths to crime victimization for children, including:
- Having special needs
- Having a nonbiological, transient caregiver in the home (such as mother’s male partner)
- Having a single parent with low-income and limited education
- Parental stress
- Interpersonal violence
- Substance use disorders in parents, siblings, and relatives
- Mental health disorders in parents, siblings, relatives
- Living in a high crime area
- Witnessing street violence
- Living in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and unemployment
- High-density of alcohol outlets and advertising
Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse offers a special program for children and youth who are victims of substance-use related crime.
If you are or you know a young person who needs help, call (562) 926-2676 and ask for the program serving youth crime victims or for Program Manager Caryl Lark.