Viral video of impaired mother raises concern over child neglect, opioid ciris


MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – A viral Facebook video of a mother on a Madison Metro Bus is going viral. The video shows a woman continually falling asleep on top of her young child.

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According to Police Chief Mike Koval’s blog, officers were not able to immediately locate the 24-year-old subject. They used the video on social media to identify her. She was charged with felony child neglect and Child Protective Services was contacted. Currently, the child is in the care of other relatives.

In an email to NBC15, MPD Public Information Officer Joel Despain said, “Sadly, we have so many people suffering from addiction, many of them addicted to opioids. We see this as a public health crisis and are trying to help as many as possible through our MARI program. The MPD sees overdose cases pretty much on a daily basis.”

Julie Ahnen is the Manager of Dane County Child Protective Services, and she said situations like the incident on the bus are unfortunately becoming increasingly common.

“We have seen more kids young kids come into care because their parent or parents are struggling with addiction, and many of the kids are being placed in the care of relatives,” Ahnen said.

Many of the parents struggling with addiction that Ahnen encounters care about their kids and work to keep their addiction away from their child.

Ahnen explained, “People who never thought that they would become addicted to substances are struggling and families are struggling with other family members who are addicted.”

If you are in a situation in public where you feel a child is at risk, Ahnen said your first call should be to the police, rather than Child Protective Services.

“If a parent is really looking like they are out of it or they’re impaired in some way, I think the best thing to do is to call law enforcement because they are going to be able to respond immediately to the scene and follow up and try to find out who the person actually is,” said Ahnen.

She pointed out to remember if someone seems like they are physically struggling, it does not always indicate alcohol or drug use.

“Anytime a parent is with a child and they present as being kind of out of it, that could be any kind of a medical emergency. They could be having a diabetic reaction or an allergic reaction and I think the first instinct should be to call 9-1-1.”

Ahnen explained some situations might not seem as dire, but could use some intervention.

“Maybe it doesn’t rise to the level where they want to call police or call Child Protective Services, but maybe they could go up to the parent and say you know, you look like you have your hands full is there anything I can do to help?”

According to Ahnen, taking a video or picture of a concerning situation could help law enforcement identify people in question.

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