By Jennifer Flett
ChildLine issued a new worrying report this week stating that in the last year 230 children in Scotland have called the charity help line about their parents’ drinking, with 87% claiming physical abuse as a consequence.
These figures demonstrate a different aspect of Scotland’s ongoing problems with alcohol, as they establish calls are disproportionately twice as high as anywhere else in Britain.
Spokesperson Alison Wales for ChildLine said of the new report;
“What we know about already is that kids continue to call about it and since a study in 2005 issued by Edinburgh University, where alcohol was found to be the biggest concern for children, the situation has not got better.
“Since the report, we now know that there are hidden children who are not likely to have talked about problems because of how chronic the situation is for them and it’s the crucial aim of ChildLine to voice their concerns to get the message out there.”
Government agency Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) worked in conjunction with ChildLine to complete this full in-depth report.
Dr Evelyn Gillian, director of SHAAP and co-author of the study highlighted the consequences on children in this situation in saying,
“The degree of emotional stress experienced by children is taking away from their childhoods especially in cases where they are having to take on more responsibilities within the family.”
In addition to Dr Gillian’s comment, Alison Wales spokesperson from ChildLine underlined a prevalent issue concerning attitudes to drinking;
“ There is a lot seen in the media about young people drinking, a lot of negative press. In reality children and young people phoning in about parents drinking habits is heard much more consistently.
“Alcohol has been marginalized in terms of young people and binge drinking, especially in Scotland and our relationship with SHAAP is important in allowing society to look at the broader issues at hand.”
This September the Scottish Government unveiled new licensing laws in supermarkets, pubs and clubs, targeting the price of alcohol in hope of minimizing excessive alcohol consumption.
The report recommends that to accompany new laws better education is needed in schools to teach the social aspects of alcohol abuse within a family, including family break-ups, bereavement and job loss and not just health effects.
Along with education another important factor in addressing the issue is to create more services for children and young people to turn to which are age appropriate and able to cater for the “hidden” children who may be at substantial risk because of limited options.
Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, emphasized;
“The Government has to take the appropriate steps in tackling alcohol misuse as a matter of urgency because this impacts children more than drug misuse does in Scotland.”