Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Drink report reveals child neglect

The report on parental drinking is launched by its author Dr Ann Hope (left), government minister Roisin Shortall and Eamon O'Kane of Alcohol Forum

More than half a million children are exposed to neglect or abuse at home as a result of a parent's hazardous drinking, it has emerged.

One in 10 adults admitted youngsters were verbally or physically abused, left in an unsafe situation or witnessed violence because of alcohol consumption.

Campaigners said alcohol misuse is endemic across Ireland and called for political, social and cultural change to tackle the issue with the same importance as the economic crisis.

The Alcohol Forum revealed one person dies every seven hours from the effects of alcohol.

Chairman Pat Harvey said: "In the next 10 years something like 10,000 people will die from harm related to drink and 30 billion euro could be spent in relation to the fall-out of harmful drinking levels," he said.

"In my mind it's as important as the current economic crisis but yet it slips under the radar a lot of the time."

The Forum's report - Hidden Realities: Children's Exposure to Risks from Parental Drinking in Ireland - highlighted how the drinking behaviour of Irish adults has a strong adverse impact on the long term wellbeing and lifestyle choices of children.

They range from feeling unhappy, afraid and confused as to why their parents change after drinking alcohol, to suffering neglect, abuse or being taken into care.

Researcher Dr Ann Hope said statistics revealed over half of all parents admit drinking hazardously - equating to 587,000 children being exposed to risk.

But she stressed only the most severe child welfare and neglect cases come to the attention of social work and treatment services.

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