The Scotsman

Charity raises alarm over alcohol and drug abuse around children

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


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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