The new report How safe are our children?, from the NSPCC, identifies nine factors which put children at a higher risk of abuse or neglect. The report considers “the evidence available about why some children and young people are at greater risk of suffering from abuse and neglect than others”
One of the high risk groups identified is Children whose parents misuse drugs/alcohol.
These children can be impacted in two quite different ways:
- Maternal substance abuse can lead to impaired physical, behavioural or cognitive development of the unborn child, and possible drug withdrawal symptoms after birth.
- More than half the parents who have been found to neglect their children do themselves misuse drugs and/or alcohol. The impact of the substance misuse on the parent can lead to the parents not being able to adequately care for the child on both a practical and emotional level.
How common is this risk factor? The Advisory council on the Misuse of Drugs estimates that between 250,000 and 350,000 children live with a parent who has a drug problem. It is also estimated that up to 3.5 million children have lived with a parent who is a binge drinker.