Raising our voice to support children of alcoholics week 2017

Posted by / Tuesday 14 February 2017 / Child neglect Early intervention Public Affairs

This week is international children of alcoholics week, an important opportunity to raise awareness of a group of children too often overlooked.  

Recently, Jon Ashworth MP gave a moving account of his experiences growing up with his Dad’s drinking.

"Dealing with my dad’s alcoholism coloured my upbringing and my life."

Jon Ashworth MP, Westminster Debate on Alcohol Harm 2 February 2017

His story is an all too familiar one for many children around the UK. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics estimates 1 in 5 children in the UK are living with a parent who drinks too much.  Harmful drinking can have a terrible impact on children, including neglect.

A child is neglected if the adults who look after them fail to meet their needs. This might be because they do not have the necessary skills or support, or because of the impact of other problems, including alcoholism. Parent(s) misusing alcohol was identified in nearly a fifth of cases referred to children’s social care (i). The impact is significant. Young people told us that neglect makes them feel depressed, unloved and invisible.

Sometimes no-one believes you. No-one comes to your house to see what’s going on. So no-one might know or can tell from the outside
Chloe, young person

Children whose parents are dependent on alcohol need our support. Community based, early intervention services which address causes of neglect, including alcohol use, can lead to positive change for children and families.


So it is good news that the Public Health Minister, Nicola Blackwood, has committed to a new national strategy for the children of alcoholics. We now need to see this strategy make the link between harmful alcohol use and child neglect.  

(i) Department for Education (2016). SFR 52/2016 Characteristics of Children in Need 2015 to 2016