Pubdate: Mon, 07 Oct 2002
Source: Times and Democrat, The (SC)
Address: P.O. Drawer 1766 Orangeburg, SC 29116
Contact:  2002, The Times and Democrat
Fax: (803)533-5595


Drugs and substance abuse are at the root of crime problems in Orangeburg. 
That was the consensus of law enforcement and other experts in "Cuffed by 
crime," a February 2002 series of Times and Democrat reports on crime in 
Orangeburg County.

Don't mistake the conclusion. The violent crime to which the experts 
referred is not just cases of drug dealers killing drug dealers or people 
committing robberies to get drug money. We are talking violence inside the 
home. And it's become epidemic.

The bad news came this past week: South Carolina is third in the nation in 
the rate of women slain by men.

The Violence Policy Center annual report ranks South Carolina, which was 
No. 5 in 1999 and No. 1 the previous year, behind Mississippi and Arizona 
in domestic violence deaths in 2000, the most recent year for which data is 

There were 46 cases in 2000 in which a woman was killed by a man in South 
Carolina. In 40 cases, a woman was killed by someone she knew, the report 
says. Two-thirds of the victims were wives, ex-wives, common-law wives or 

In Orangeburg County and around The T&D Region, the problem is no secret to 
law enforcement. They are dealing with domestic violence cases constantly.

Every week the crime reports in this newspaper include stunning examples of 
domestic violence. It's no longer the silent crime. And things are getting 

S.C. Attorney General Charlie Condon's zero-tolerance policy for domestic 
violence mandates that prosecutors take suspects to court whether victims 
agree to prosecute or not. He says the policy has resulted in more 

But even the state's chief prosecutor knows things have gotten worse. "It's 
unacceptable. It's gotta change. I think it shows the need to have a 
statewide war against domestic violence. I think it's our No. 1 crime problem."

Battling it, however, means also battling substance abuse.

Rick Wade, the candidate for secretary of state in this year's election, 
served as director of the S.C. Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse 
Services for most of the last four years.

During a speech in Orangeburg earlier this year, Wade addressed directly 
the connection between alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence.

"I haven't found an area in our society ... where the issue of alcohol and 
drug abuse doesn't become imminent. It is a devastating disease," Wade 
said. Statistics from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention indicate 
that 64 percent of child abuse cases stem from past alcohol and substance 
abuse among adults, he said.

Other statistics indicate:

- -- One-fourth of men who commit acts of domestic violence also have 
substance-abuse problems.

- -- A sizable percentage of convicted batterers were raised by parents who 
abused drugs or alcohol.

- -- Women who abuse alcohol or drugs are more likely to become victims of 
domestic violence.

- -- Childhood physical abuse is associated with later substance abuse by youth.

Wade said the familiar "war on drugs" has become less singular and is now a 
battle against "a series of epidemics attacking our communities" -- not the 
least of them is domestic violence.

Arresting drug dealers alone will not win the war on drugs. Reducing 
consumer demand for illegal drugs and achieving responsible use of alcohol, 
along with continuing focus on teaching the young that violence is not 
acceptable, are equally crucial.

Reduce alcohol and drug abuse and we will reduce domestic violence. It's 
that complex. And that simple.
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