Char­ity raises alarm over al­co­hol and drug abuse around chil­dren

● 1,400 calls made to helpline ● Fig­ures on the in­crease

The Scotsman - - Around Scotland - By GRAEME MUR­RAY

More than 1,400 calls have been made to a helpline over the past three years by peo­ple con­cerned­aboutal­co­hol,drug and other sub­stance abuse around chil­dren, a char­ity has re­vealed.

In 2015-16, NSPCC Scot­land was con­tacted by 494 Scots con­cerned about the abuse, com­pared to 408 peo­ple the pre­vi­ous year.

A to­tal of 1,420 calls re­lated to sub­stance abuse con­cerns be­tween 2013 and 2016.

Char­ity bosses said some calls re­ceived were judged to be so se­ri­ous that the char­ity made more than 1,300 re­fer­rals in the past three years to ex­ter­nal agen­cies such as po­lice and chil­dren’s ser­vices.

Across the UK, 8,500 peo­ple con­tacted the NSPCC helpline last year about po­ten­tial sub­stance mis­use amongst adults when young peo­ple were in their care.

The num­ber is up by 16 per cent since 2013/14, when more than 7,300 peo­ple got in touch.

In ad­di­tion to calls about ex­ces­sive al­co­hol use by par­ents, the char­ity also re­ceived calls about drug use near chil­dren which neigh­bours are re­luc­tant to tackle.

One mem­ber of the pub­lic con­tacted the NSPCC helpline and said: “They have a party go­ing on in the house eve-

0 Drugs and al­co­hol can have hugely dam­ag­ing ef­fects around chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to Matt Forde of NSPCC Scot­land, be­low ry week­end. I see lots of peo­ple en­ter­ing and leav­ing the prop­erty and there is a strong smell of drugs lin­ger­ing in the air when this hap­pens.

“The chil­dren are in­side the home when the par­ties are taking place and I’m be­com­ing wor­ried for their wel­fare.

“The mother has a drink­ing prob­lem and she reg­u­larly leaves the chil­dren at home on their own too. I don’t want to ap­proach her my­self as it may cre­ate ten­sion be­tween us. What should I do?”

The fig­ures were 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.

Matt Forde of 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.”

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