By CAROL MARBIN MILLER and AUDRA D.S. BURCH
They are among the most prolific killers of Florida children, but they don’t carry a gun or a knife. The danger they carry is small enough to fit inside a pill bottle, a bong or a syringe.
Drugs are the cause of scores of child deaths every year in Florida.
The youngest casualties of Florida’s drug culture include Evan Longanecker, almost 2 months old when he was smothered by his drug-abusing mother, who passed out while breastfeeding him; 7-month-old Ella Moon Martin, whose mom stashed her pot in the baby’s diaper bag; and Logan Suber, a 2-month-old who died in a barn surrounded by his mother’s drugs and paraphernalia.
“Drugs are what drive the child-welfare system,” said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen, a veteran who oversees the county’s drug program for unfit parents. She has called the state’s programs for combating parental drug addiction “inherently flawed and tremendously dangerous.”
They are inherently flawed, she said, because the system is, for the most part, voluntary. Parents can “just say no” — to testing, to treatment, to acknowledging their demons.