Concern about substance abuse near children

Date: 20th February 2017
Category: Protection from abuse or neglect

The NSPCC have reported that there were more than 1,400 calls made to the NSPCC's helpline over the last three years by people in Scotland concerned about alcohol, drug or other substance abuse around children.

Last year alone (2015/16), the charity received 494 contacts from Scotland, a rise from 408 in 2013/2014. A total of 1,420 calls on substance abuse concerns were made to the helpline from Scotland in the three years from 2013.

Some contacts from Scotland were judged so serious that the charity had to make more than 1,300 referrals in the past three years to external agencies - including police and children's services - about substance abuse around children. One contact may result in a number of referrals to different agencies.

Across the UK 8,500 contacted the NSPCC helpline last year to describe potential substance misuse amongst adults when children and young people were in their care or nearby. The number is up by 16 per cent since 2013 /14, when just over 7,300 people got in touch.

The figures have been released as the UK marks the start of Children of Alcoholics Week, which aims to raise awareness of the problems and suffering associated with parental alcohol problems. Substance misuse is a significant risk for children and often leads to neglect and abuse. Excessive alcohol consumption or use of drugs inevitably make it difficult for parents to deal with family life and often put pressure on relationships. Children's feelings, their relationship with their parents and how they're looked after are all inevitably affected.

Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland said: "Drugs and alcohol can have hugely damaging effects around children and it's clearly troubling to see a rise over time in reports of this problem to our helpline.

"Substance misuse all too often leads to the neglect or abuse of a child and it's absolutely crucial that we do all we can to stop that. The NSPCC provides services directly to families suffering from these problems to help them overcome them and provide their children with a safe and secure upbringing.

"But everyone has a duty to look out for potential signs of distress and the NSPCC's helpline is there to provide help and support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."