A record number of people have contacted the NSPCC Helpline with concerns about the wellbeing of children whose parent is drinking to excess or taking drugs.
- 30% increase in one year in people contacting the NSPCC Helpline with child safety worries due to parental substance misuse
- 2016/17 saw cases involving more than 15,000 children referred to local authorities or police
- Nearly 500 referrals made to local authorities and police after contacts to the NSPCC helpline in Wales about parental substance misuse
Of these contacts 8793 across the UK and 469 of these in Wales, involving more than 15,000 children, were deemed serious enough to be referred on to local authorities or the police.
A further 44 contacts from Wales were given advice by the NSPCC.
The majority of contacts to the NSPCC Helpline about substance misuse are from members of the public worried that a parent is drinking too much alcohol which in turn is affecting their ability to provide a safe and supportive environment for their children.
I’m really worried for the safety of a child living with his parents. There is always heavy smoke lingering around the family home and I regularly see the parents intoxicated with alcohol and drugs. Sometimes I can hear them shouting and screaming profanities at each other whilst the child is in the home. It’s really upsetting.
In many of these cases other concerns such as neglect and physical and emotional abuse against the child, parental domestic abuse and parental mental health issues are also raised.
More than a third of the children referred to police or local authorities were aged between one and five, with a further 581 being less than a year old (including unborn children).
John Cameron, who is the Head of Helplines at the NSPCC, said:
“Every child should be able to grow up in a home where they feel safe and supported. The sad fact is that many young people are being deprived of this simple right due to one or both of their parents abusing drink and drugs.
“It is vitally important for the wellbeing of the whole family that adults who are misusing any substance seek help from effective programmes. In doing so they will gain a better understanding of themselves and what they need to do to give their child the best start in life.”