Not enough is being done to protect children affected by their parents’ drinking habits, a new study claims.
The research was published by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and charity The Children’s Society. Children, young people, parents and professionals who deal with the issue were interviewed in three areas of England.
The report claimed that some progress had been made by local areas in the identification of parents with alcohol problems, but there were still “a variety of flaws”.
According to the study, there are “a number of barriers” for children who wish to seek help for their parents. Many who were interviewed said that they did not think their parents’ drinking was something they could even seek help for.
For this reason, the report emphasised the importance of social services identifying problem drinking. However, while several local areas had strategies to identify alcohol misuse in general, only one had a strategy specifically targeted towards parents.
Self-identification among parents was also problematic. Many of those who are “problem drinkers” will often not seek help due to the “stigma and shame” associated with it.
One parent who was interviewed said she did not take advantage of alcohol treatment services because “they’re for alcoholics”. While she admitted to having a problem, she said that “[t]o be an alcoholic you have to drink every day. I don’t drink every day so I’m not an alcoholic”.
Maggie Atkinson, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said that alcohol misuse is “frighteningly common” with an “immense” social and economic cost.
She added that parents “must be made aware of the effects their problem drinking can have on children and young people”.
Although some areas have introduced Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDAC), which have shown signs of progress, Atkinson stated that “health and social care services must get better” at identifying and responding to the problem.
The study was published in a report entitled Parental alcohol misuse – uncovering and responding to children’s needs at a local level.
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