Parental drinking a factor in third of serious child neglect incidents

By Neil Puffett

| 11 February 2018

More than a third of child deaths and serious injuries through neglect are linked to parental drinking, a report commissioned by MPs and peers has found.

More than a third of serious injuries or deaths as a result of child neglect are linked to parental drinking. Picture: Lucie Carlier

The report, commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Children of Alcoholics, found that between 2011 and 2014 parental alcohol misuse was implicated in 37 per cent of cases involving the death or serious injury of a child through neglect or abuse in England. An estimated 200,000 children in England are being raised by alcoholic parents.

The research also found that 61 per cent of care applications in England involved misuse of alcohol and/or drugs.

Meanwhile, 18 per cent of children reported feeling embarrassed by seeing their parent drunk, and 15 per cent reported their bedtime routine had been disrupted as a result of their parents' drinking.

A separate Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the APPG found that more than half of councils do not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. The APPG said this was an improvement on 2015 when three quarters of councils did not have a strategy to support children of alcoholics, but said it was concerned that five councils - Bracknell Forest, Hartlepool, Northamptonshire, Reading and Warwickshire - previously had strategies in place but now do not.

The FOI request also found that, of the 53 local authorities that provided data, 92.4 per cent have cut their budgets for drug and alcohol treatment, and in more than half of councils, referrals to alcohol treatment services are falling.

The report makes a number of recommendations including properly funding local support for children affected, and for a greater focus on education and awareness of the issue among children and young people.

Labour MP Liam Byrne, chair of the APPG, who himself lost his father to alcoholism in 2015, said: "Millions of parents drink too much and their misuse of alcohol causes horrific problems for their children. Parental alcohol misuse scars kids for life and can lead many into a life of drinking too much themselves.

"Our campaign has now won a new commitment from government for a national strategy to stop parental alcohol misuse. This new report shows just why the government must act fast to put an effective plan in place."

Last month Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt committed to the creation of a national strategy including a new helpline to support children being raised by alcoholic parents.

blog comments powered by Disqus