Childline contacted twice a day by children seeking help with alcoholic parent

An NSPCC worker listens to a call from a vulnerable child (NSPCC/ Tom Hull)
An NSPCC worker listens to a call from a vulnerable child (NSPCC/ Tom Hull)

Childline is contacted twice a day by children seeking support with parental alcohol or drug abuse, according to new figures.

Counsellors employed by National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) delivered a total of 633 sessions to children last year across the UK concerned about a parent’s substance misuse.

Last year, 70,310 children in England subject to a Child in Need assessment were identified as having a parent who misused alcohol.

But the charity has warned that the figure is likely much higher due to the secretive nature of alcohol abuse.

One 15-year-old boy who contacted Childline said: “I am having a hard time at home. My dad is always drunk and gets quite violent.

“He hit me today and left a bruise. He told me he does not want anything to do with me anymore.

“I don’t want my dad to get into trouble or for me to go in to care. I am also frightened that if my dad found out I had told anyone, he would hurt me.”

The figures were released ahead of Children of Alcoholics week, which begins next Monday. It is led by the National Association of the Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa).

One in five children in the UK are affected by their parents’ drinking, according to Nacoa.

Shaun Friel, Director at Childline said: “Parents and carers who misuse alcohol can have chaotic, unpredictable lifestyles and may struggle to recognise and meet their children’s needs. This can create a lot of stress and worry for children, often have to pick up extra responsibilities at home such as keeping the house clean, cooking and caring for their siblings, and their parent.

“That’s why it’s so important children feel able to talk about their feelings or ask for support. Talking to someone can help them feel less alone and help them get the right support. We must break the cycle of secrecy and give them the confidence to speak up. Let’s remove the stigma and the shame they so needlessly feel.”

Hilary Henriques MBE, Chief Executive of Nacoa UK said: “News of a 27 per cent increase of alcohol deaths since 2019 is devastating to hear for charities like Nacoa and NSPCC, who daily witness the impacts of parental addiction on children.

“COA Week helps us to remember that alcoholism is a family problem, rarely isolated. Behind these statistics are mothers and fathers whose children will have been living with the chaos of an alcoholic household. But with greater awareness and support, we will help children to find healthy ways to cope and break the cycle of addiction.”