I work with children and young people and my experience reflects this headline.
You can read the full article here but these are my edited lowlights:
The 24-hour helpline received 5,323 calls – more than 100 a week – from children scared by their parents’ behaviour, a staggering rise on the 2,509 calls it fielded the year before. Most of the children turning to the NSPCC-run service were between the ages of 12 and 15, but a substantial minority – one in 10 – were aged 11 or under and still at primary school.
In a stark warning, the charity said thousands of children live in fear of being on the receiving end of their parents’ anger, with one in six saying they had fallen victim to physical violence by their mum or dad when they were under the influence.
The emotional trauma of their parents’ substance abuse (either drugs or alcohol) combined with their chaotic home lives is driving many children to depression, self harm and even suicidal thoughts, the NSPCC said.
One child, who cannot be identified, told ChildLine: “My dad has been drinking and taking drugs a lot recently – it’s ruining our family.
“He gets angry when he has been drinking so he says nasty things to us like we are stupid and worthless. I’m finding it difficult to deal with because underneath it all I know he’s a really good dad.”
Tom Rahilly, head of services for families affected by alcohol and drugs at the NSPCC, said: “What we hear from children is that they are concerned that their parents are using drugs or alcohol to blot out worries in their lives around jobs, money and housing issues. The charity warned the figures were just the tip of the iceberg, and estimates that three in 10 children live with at least one binge-drinking parent.
However, he warned against stereotyping and said that children from all walks of life, including middle class families, were affected by the problem.
This strikes close to home for me as a parent who worried about the impact of my drinking on my children. We need to be addressing this issue culturally and socially in this country otherwise the problem continues inter-generationally and we do not need another generation of children sharing this kind of experience.
95 days to go