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Charity highlights extent of parental alcohol abuse on children

The Children’s Society is calling on the government to urgently address the £2bn funding gap for local council children’s services after research shows almost 700,000 children are affected by parental alcohol abuse.

Figures from the charity also show that more than 1.6 million teenagers have a parent with depression or anxiety and 1.7 million teenagers are living in homes struggling with problem debt.

The Children’s Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed said: “Millions of teenagers in the UK are suffering in silence with problems that would floor an adult. The hundreds of thousands of children whose parent has a drinking problem are sadly just the tip of the iceberg of children in desperate need of support. At a time when demand for council children’s services is rising, severe funding cuts from central government are leaving more and more to deal with these huge problems alone.

The charity’s survey of 3,000 families with children aged 10-17 found:

  • Almost 60% of these teenagers affected by parental alcohol abuse have a parent who is also suffering from depression or anxiety.
  • A quarter of these teenagers were taking on caring responsibilities at home
  • Two in five had experienced domestic violence
  • One in four had been homeless in the last five years.
  • In 60% of households, adult mental health problems were also evident
  • In almost 45% of households, parents had a long-term condition or disability.

The charity warns that children in households where a parent is abusing alcohol are prone to developing mental health problems, running away from home or being excluded from school.

The Children’s Society argues that local services are crucial to make sure children in families affected by alcohol misuse are identified and that they are kept safe.

Matthew Reed added: “Specialist services working with families to combat problem drinking, support for teenagers whose parent has mental ill health, or safe spaces for them to go when pressures at home mount, are becoming ever harder to find. Without support at an early stage as problems emerge, these families can quickly reach crisis point and the risks for the children involved grow.”

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