Belfast Telegraph

Fears grow for children of substance abuse parents

Around 450 calls have been made to a helpline in the last three years raising concerns about drug and alcohol abuse taking place around children in Northern Ireland.

Last year alone, the NSPCC helpline received 152 calls from people in region worried about children who were in the care of adults they believed were misusing substances.

The figure was up 14% on the number of reports made in 2013/14 - 133.

The Northern Ireland statistics were outlined along with UK-wide data that revealed that 8,500 people contacted the free and confidential helpline nationwide last year about the problem, an average of almost one call every hour.

The figures have been released to mark the start of Children of Alcoholics Week, which aims to raise awareness of issues around parental alcohol problems.

In Northern Ireland, the NSPCC made 394 referrals to external agencies on the back of the reports since 2013, including the PSNI and children's services.

Head of the NSPCC in Northern Ireland, Neil Anderson, said: "Drugs and alcohol can have hugely damaging effects around children and it's clearly troubling to see a rise over time in reports of this problem to our helpline.

"Substance misuse all too often leads to the neglect or abuse of a child and it's absolutely crucial that we do all we can to stop that. The NSPCC provides services directly to families suffering from these problems to help them overcome them and provide their children with a safe and secure upbringing.

"But everyone has a duty to look out for potential signs of distress and the NSPCC's helpline is there to provide help and support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

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