Fighting Fentanyl: Sammy's Law paves the way for digital protection and parental control

Plain and simple, losing a child to fentanyl poisoning is beyond devastating. This has certainly been the case for Sam Chapman and his wife, Dr. Laura Berman. Now, they are about to realize what they've been working towards since their son died from a fentanyl-laced drug obtained on social media on February 7, 2021, and delivered to his home "like a pizza."

"Now," says Chapman, "We're in Washington DC lobbying for Sammy's Law, which will create a bridge between technology and parents so we'll know what's happening on our kids' devices should anything dangerous occur."

For Sam Chapman and Laura Berman, their trip to the nation's Capitol and their mission to create a law in their son's name to save other kids lured in by drug dealers on social media was the result of a tragedy. 

Sammy's dad recalls, "It was February 7th, 2021 - Super Bowl Sunday... when we came to find our son that day, he was dead on the floor."

Sammy's dad says that's the day a drug dealer reached out to his 16-year-old son through social media, and the drugs that were delivered were laced with fentanyl. 

Sammy died from a fentanyl-laced drug obtained on social media on February 7, 2021, and delivered to his home "like a pizza."

"And, from that moment on, we've been what we call accidental activists," said Sam Chapman, connecting with other parents, speaking to groups and in the media, and working on Sammy's law to make software companies allow for third-party safety software to be installed on social media platforms.

This would enable parents to be alerted to things like, "... if a drug dealer reaches out to their kids. If they're being bullied. If they're talking about suicide. If there's a risk of violence. If we had had that safety software available to us, which SnapChat and TikTok don't allow, and Instagram and Facebook don't allow on their instant message... if we had had that, then Sammy would be alive today."

House Resolution 5778 - Sammy's Law - will be announced Tuesday at noon Eastern Time by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And all of this has been part of this couple's efforts to turn pain into purpose. Dr. Laura Berman says, "... it does help the helplessness that one feels when something like this happens to try to help other families and save other kids from Sammy and our fate, and we won't stop!"

This story has a personal connection to me. I was there at the start of their journey. Sam reminds us, "When this first happened to us, we spoke with you and you put us on TV, and when we were done, you said to me, ‘you gotta get out there and do more. People need to hear from you.’ And, so that's exactly what we did."

HB 5778 first goes to the Energy and Commerce committee. If voted out of committee, it goes to the full House, and if approved there, it's onto the Senate. If approved on all of those levels, it goes to the desk of the President of the United States.