A 29-year-old mother from Success Village, Conn., was arrested with her partner after allegedly ordering her 4-year-old son to chug a 40-ounce bottle of beer on a playground.
Juliette Dunn was charged with two counts of risk of injury to a child and two counts of second-degree assault June 28 after her son and her 10-month-old daughter tested positive for alcohol. The 10-month-old girl also tested positive for cocaine.
Thirty-three year-old Lisa Jefferson, who identified herself as Dunn's girlfriend, was arrested on the same charges.
A witness told police that Jefferson handed the boy a beer and told him to chug it. When he finished, police said, Jefferson called him an alcoholic.
Police found an empty 40-ounce bottle of Steel Reserve beer on the ground beside the boy and a baby bottle next to the baby containing a dark liquid that smelled like alcohol.
The children were taken to Bridgeport Hospital where, during an examination, the 4-year-old told a social worker "he likes Natural Ice beer, Budweiser beer, but didn't like the taste of Dog-Bite beer," according to the police report.
Drugs and alcohol can have severe and long-lasting effects on children's developing brains, according to Rahil Briggs, assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
"Children's brains are more plastic than their adult counterparts. This means that they are disproportionately sensitive and responsive to input, both negative and positive," Briggs said. "This is why a four-year-old can learn Mandarin much more easily than can a 40-year-old, but it's also why abuse and neglect at an early age can be especially deleterious, and exert life-long impacts."
Because of their size, the same dose of drugs or alcohol is more potent in children than in adults.
"We do not know enough about exactly how drugs and alcohol affect the young developing brain, but we know that every single effect is negative, and some even life-threatening," Briggs said.
Dunn later admitted to smoking crack-cocaine 10 minutes before police arrived on the scene but said she didn't know how the baby tested positive for cocaine because she didn't breast-feed, according to the police report.
The children were temporarily placed in the custory of the Department of Children and Families.
"In the process of doing that, we've induced a new trauma," said Alan Kazdin, psychology professor at Yale University. "There's no good solution here. But in the process of protecting, you sometimes have to hurt."