ChildLine report exposes children’s concerns about parents’ drinking

More than 4,000 children who rang ChildLine last year said they were worried about their parents’ excessive drinking, according to the charity’s latest report.

Children calling the helpline service regarding alcohol misuse were also more than three times more likely to mention suffering physical abuse than other children who called.

Between April 2008 and March 2009, ChildLine received 986 calls from children aged five to 11 concerned about their parents’ alcohol problem.

One 10-year-old girl told the helpline: “My mum drinks all the time. She leaves me alone lots of the time. I feel scared and lonely. I look after mum when she drinks and put her to bed. She shouts and hits me. I don’t want to feel pain. I want to die.”

Parental drug misuse was reported as a problem in the lives of 2,284 children given ChildLine counselling.

Sue Minto, head of ChildLine, said: “The fallout from parental drug and alcohol abuse is a ticking timebomb in many children’s lives. It’s vital these children are helped before lasting damage occurs.

“Children living with parental alcohol and drug problems are at more risk of harm and we need to find ways of helping them sooner. But we must also remember they can be fiercely protective of their parents. These children desperately need help to tackle their problems but feel they have no one to turn to. So they often end up caring for their siblings and even their own parents by themselves.”