Dublin: 100,000 Children Countrywide Neglected By Alcoholic Caregivers: Charity

15 Feb


AT least 100,000 children across the country are suffering neglect as a direct result of their parents’ alcohol problems — with a shocking one in six child abuse cases linked to the condition. New figures revealed by Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) show children continue to be the silent victims of the long-standing national problem.

According to the group, which released the survey findings to mark Children of Alcoholics Week, one in every 11 children under the age of 16 is being neglected because of alcohol abuse within their family.

This figure is based on almost 10,000 responses to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s (ISPCC) national children’s consultation survey.

A large section of the neglect relates to issues such as not having clean clothes, school lunches or children “having to be mam or dad” to their siblings because their own parents are not capable of this responsibility.

However, it also includes issues like physical and sexual abuse — with the survey suggesting that one in six child abuse cases is directly linked to alcohol problems.

www.teenline.ie & www.letsomeoneknow.ie & www.aware.ie & www.3ts.ie

 “Parental alcohol problems can and do have a serious impact on a child’s welfare and safety,” warned AAI director Fiona Ryan.

“As a society we deny or ignore the impact of parental problems on children, yet these children are often leading lives of quiet desperation, unseen and unheard.

“They get our attention only when the most extreme cases come to light.

“We prefer to think of these as isolated incidents, but the reality is that currently one in 11 children tells us their parents’ drinking has a negative impact on their lives.”

Highlighting the fact alcohol abuse has failed to be addressed in Ireland for decades, she added: “When adults were asked about parental alcohol use during their childhood, one in 14 said they frequently felt afraid or unsafe as children, with one in 12 witnessing alcohol-related parental conflict.”

In an attempt to address the situation, the AAI has called on the next government to carry out a national survey of all households to clarify the extent of the problem.

The group is also seeking extra funding for social workers and other staff working with children facing these difficulties, to curb the availability of alcohol and to strictly regulate its promotion.

According to EU figures, as many as nine million children in the free-market bloc are affected by family alcohol abuse, a significant number of who are also victims of violence and other physical abuse.

The AAI survey findings emerged after the World Health Organisation (WHO) said alcohol abuse is the cause of more deaths worldwide than Aids, tuberculosis or non-related violence.

The United Nations’ funded group’s Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health said up to 2.5 million die from alcohol abuse every year, the equivalent of 4% of all global deaths.

Despite these sobering findings, the health body found alcohol-control policies are weak and remain a low priority for most governments despite the heavy toll drinking takes on society.

Previous Related Article: 29/01/2009:

By J. P. Anderson:

Health campaigners have backed the Government over guidance saying under-15s should not drink a drop of alcohol, even at home.

Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson told parents an alcohol-free childhood was “the safest option” to safeguard health.

For those aged 15 to 17, any drinking should be under the watchful eye of a parent or carer or in a supervised

Environment, he said. If this age group does drink, it should be infrequent and certainly on no more than on one day a week, he added.

The guidance states the brains of children under 15 were still developing and drinking alcohol could do serious damage.

He said: “This guidance aims to support parents, give them the confidence to set boundaries and help them engage with young people about drinking and risks associated with it.

“More than 10,000 children end up in hospital every year due to drinking and research tells us that 15% of young people think it is normal to get drunk at least once a week. They are putting themselves at risk of harm to the liver, depression and damage to the developing brain.”

The guidance, which is open to consultation and could be changed, is the first of its kind for parents in England.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said the Government had a “responsibility” to provide straightforward information for parents. “The decision about when young people should first drink alcohol is clearly best taken by their parents or carers,” he said.

“But we know that parents want more information about the harms associated with drinking to help them make this decision. Government has a responsibility to provide straightforward information and guidance, which is exactly what we are doing.”

Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said the guidelines helped parents who had, for too long, received “mixed messages” about whether they should give their children a little bit of alcohol or not. “There are many more factors that influence young people’s drinking than just what their parents say. The easy availability of alcohol at pocket money prices is far more important,” he said.



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