The Drug Enforcement Administration is issuing a warning for parents to closely monitor their children’s social media activity.
This warning comes as the result of multiple investigations across the United States involving children dying from fentanyl overdoses.
Social media was designed to build relationships by connecting people and communities through online conversations. But according to DEA Special Agent in Charge Cheri Oz, street-level drug dealers are now using social media to solicit children as new customers.
“Any strangers can befriend them, start a conversation with them, and they end up being victims,” Oz said.
That’s why the DEA is warning parents to pay extra close attention to their children’s activity on social media.
“We’re talking about pills that are marketed toward kids and they can look like anything. They look like vitamins. They have characters stamped on them. They look like Adderall. They look like Tylenol,” Oz said.
Oz said investigations revealed most of the pills introduced to children through social media and ultimately sold to them contained fentanyl. And unfortunately, she said, the pediatric death count from this across the U.S. is increasing.
“There are tons of those cases, and it’s very sad,” Oz said.
Oz said the most recent case involved a 14-year-old in Arizona who died from a fentanyl overdose. While she couldn’t get into specific details about the case because it’s still under investigation, she confirmed the child purchased the drugs from a street dealer who befriended the child on social media. She said it’s these kinds of cases that make the investigation personal.
“I’m a mom, and this is very near and dear to my heart,” Oz said. “I tell parents all the time, you have to be part of the conversation. You have to start talking to kids about what they are seeing online.”