Parents’ alcohol abuse damaging the lives of 700,000 teenagers
Parents’ alcohol abuse is damaging the lives of an estimated 700,000 teenagers across the UK, according to new research from The Children’s Society. The charity surveyed 3,000 families with children aged 10-17 and the results reveal the seriousness and complexity of the problems facing millions of the UK’s teenagers.
The main findings of the research were as follows:
- 3 out of 5 children/teenagers (59% surveyed) are suffering from depression or anxiety along with their parent.
- 2 out of 5 children/teenagers (39% surveyed) have lived with domestic violence.
- More than one in four children/teenagers (295 surveyed) have been homeless in the last five years.
- More than 1.6 million teenagers have a parent with depression or anxiety.
- 1.7 million teenagers are living in homes struggling with problem debt.
- Almost a quarter (23% surveyed) of children/teenagers from homes plagued by alcohol misuse were also taking on caring responsibilities at home, likely to include domestic chores, taking care of siblings or nursing parents suffering from withdrawal.
The charity warns that the pressures on teenagers from homes where alcohol or drugs are being misused, can lead to them developing mental health problems, running away from home or being excluded from school. The Children’s Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed said:
“Millions of teenagers in the UK are suffering in silence with problems that would floor an adult. The hundreds of thousands of children whose parent has a drinking problem are sadly just the tip of the iceberg of children in desperate need of support. At a time when demand for council children’s services is rising, severe funding cuts from central government are leaving more and more to deal with these huge problems alone. Specialist services working with families to combat problem drinking, support for teenagers whose parent has mental ill health, or safe spaces for them to go when pressures at home mount, are becoming ever harder to find. Without support at an early stage as problems emerge, these families can quickly reach crisis point and the risks for the children involved grow.”
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.