Updated: Tuesday, 17th September 2019 @ 4:52pm

ChildLine abuse calls DOUBLE due to parents' drink and drug issues – with 700 cases in Manchester

ChildLine abuse calls DOUBLE due to parents' drink and drug issues – with 700 cases in Manchester

| By Lucy Varley

ChildLine has reported that the number of children counselled as a result of their parents' substance abuse has more than DOUBLED in the last year.

The service, provided by the children's charity NSPCC, reported a rise up to an average of 15 counseling sessions-a-day to their free-of-charge 24-hour helpline.

More than 5,300 counselling sessions – with 701 in Manchester alone – were provided by Childline with children concerned about their parents’ abuse of drink or drugs in the last year, which was up from 2,509 cases in the previous year

Manchester’s ChildLine Service Manager Kemi Olubodun said: “It’s heartbreaking that so many young people struggle alone because they do not know where to go for help, or are unsure of what might happen if they speak to someone.

They may fear being taken away from their families by social services and put into care and believe that they are protecting their family by keeping quiet.”

Most of the children receiving counselling via phone and email were aged just 12-to-15-years-old, although one-in-ten of those counseled were of primary school age.

These figures are in contrast with a long-term fall in violent crimes in England and Wales, which is thought to be partially influenced by the ever-rising cost of alcohol.

Many children told ChildLine that they were living in constant fear of their parents’ anger and one-in-six reported that they had been physically harmed by a parent whilst they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Some of those who called the helpline reported that they were living in dirty and often dangerous surroundings and were forced to survive without the bare essentials because any spare money was frittered away on alcohol or drugs.

Children reported that they often felt helpless and alone and were unsure of who to turn to for the support they desperately needed.

Of those who turned to ChildLine, 19% reported that the stress of their situation had led them to feeling severely depressed, self-harming or contemplating suicidal thoughts.

One young person who reached out to a counsellor at the ChildLine base in Manchester said: “My mum is a drug addict and my dad’s an alcoholic.

“They argue all the time and it gets really bad sometimes.

“Dad can be violent towards me when he’s drunk but I can’t move out because I’m still studying. I’m trying to stay strong – but I feel like the drugs and alcohol are more important to them than me.”

The young person reported that they felt unable to contact the police because they were so terrified of what their Dad would do to them if he found out, but they desperately needed somebody to talk to.

Ms Olubodun said: “These shocking ChildLine statistics are sadly only one small piece of the jigsaw.”

Official estimates reveal that around 250,000 children in the UK have parents with drug problems, whilst three in 10 children live with at least one binge-drinking parent.

Ms Olubodum reported that children often tell ChildLine that their parents are under great stress and it may be that they are using drink and drugs to blot out job, money and housing worries.

She said: “Whatever the reasons behind the rise, it’s vital that anyone who knows a parent with drink or drug problems takes action to get that family help so that their children are protected.”

Children can seek help by contacting ChildLine on 0800 1111 or on their website.

Adults with concerns about a child’s welfare should call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Images courtesy of anthony kelly with thanks