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The boy lived in a meth house.

He was sodomized and raped so frequently that by the time authorities intervened, he had no more sphincter integrity.

He told interviewers about the abuse in a disturbingly matter-of-fact tone, said Ken Morton, director of Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Services, a nonprofit medical clinic associated with Sky Lakes Medical Center.

The constant abuse was all the boy had ever known; he thought all adults acted like that.

Methamphetamine heightens sex drive and lowers inhibitions, experts say, and children who live in homes where meth is present often are victims of drug use.

The boy was one of hundreds of child abuse cases in Klamath County last year linked to substance abuse. That link, local experts say, is the most consistent among abused children they treat. In a county where statistically two of every 100 children are abused, the relationship is significant.

According to the Department of Human Services, Klamath County’s child abuse rate appears to be improving – on average 1.92 children were abused per 100 last year, compared with 2.5 in 2009 – but the rate is still more than 150 percent of the state’s average.

“Klamath County is always at the very bottom of Oregon’s 33 (counted) counties in (child abuse incidence) rankings, the worst county per capita,” said Stan Gilbert, director of Klamath Youth Development Center, a nonprofit that provides child abuse treatment. “Substance abuse issues are really big. … Offenders use substances to reduce inhibitions and act out.”

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