Welcome to another week.

A report just published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children of Alcoholics looks at the correlation between alcohol abuse by parents and child injuries. The APPG’s report concludes that 37% of child deaths and serious injuries through neglect are linked to parental drinking.

It’s a significant statistic, which should be on councils’ agendas to tackle, however a Freedom Of Information request revealed that over half of all councils still do not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics (COAs), almost all councils are cutting their budgets for alcohol and drug treatment services and in more than half of councils, referrals to alcohol treatment services are falling.

APPG Chair, Labour MP Liam Byrne has a helpful summary of all the relevant details on this report on his blog, including those involved in the document’s production.

The report has been published to coincide with International Children of Alcoholics Week which runs from 11th-17th February, 2018.

Liam’s web page offers key findings from the report:

  • Between 2011-14, ‘Parental Alcohol Misuse’ (PAM) was implicated in 37% of cases involving the death or serious injury of a child through neglect or abuse in England.
  • 18% of children reported feeling embarrassed by seeing their parent drunk, while 15% reported their bedtime routine had been disrupted as a result of their parents’ drinking.
  • 61% of care applications in England involved misuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Children living with alcohol-dependent parents report feeling socially isolated, and are reluctant to seek help due to feelings of stigma, shame and guilt about not wanting to betray parents: Calls to helplines reveal their chronic worry and fear.
  • Children may have to take on caring responsibilities for the affected parent or younger siblings which can negatively impact school attendance and homework.
  • ‘Parental Alcohol Misuse’ leads to inconsistent and unpredictable parenting.

Liam explains that the report highlights several other very serious findings relating to children in these scenarios, which tell us that parental alcohol misuse showed increased risks of obesity, eating disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, as well as a heightened risk of hospital admissions and injuries.

The APPG offers a nine point plan to tackle this issue:

  1. Create a national strategy for COAs
  2. Properly fund local support for COAs
  3. Increase availability of support for families battling addiction to alcohol
  4. Boost education and awareness for children
  5. Boost education and training for those with a responsibility for children
  6. Develop a plan to change public attitudes
  7. Revise the national strategy to tackle alcoholism to focus on price and availability
  8. Curtail the promotion of alcohol – especially to children
  9. Take responsibility for reducing rates of alcoholism

Given that 61% of care applications involve parents who have alcohol or drug dependencies and that a significant number of children involved are at risk of injury or death, our question this week then, is just this: what would your plan be to tackle this issue?

The full report can be accessed here.

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