Drunken parents are a danger, NSPCC warns

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The Independent Online
Parents have been urged not to drink too much during New Year celebrations, following a survey which showed that almost a quarter of child neglect cases involved alcohol.

The finding emerged from a study of 2,234 calls about child abuse and neglect taken from a helpline run by the NSPCC.

Parental misuse of alcohol was mentioned in 23 per cent of the calls about neglect. It was also reported in 13 per cent of calls about emotional abuse, 10 per cent of calls about physical abuse and 5 per cent of those relating to sexual abuse.

But a spokesman for the charity said the figures may underestimate the true scale of the problem.

Ian Elliot, child protection team manager in Foyle, Northern Ireland, said: "Children can be very loyal to parents who are drinking heavily. They help to hide the problem and often feel that somehow they are to blame."

He said that alcohol misuse was present in two out of every three families the charity worked with but was often only discovered much later.

Jim Harding, the director of the NSPCC, said: "Most parents can enjoy a drink or two without any problem. But no sensible person would drive a car or operate machinery while over the limit. Nor would a responsible carer be found drunk in charge of a child.

"I am asking all parents and carers to make a New Year's resolution to drink responsibly in 1998 - and to take action now if they feel their drinking could lead to violence against or neglect of their children."

- Kate Watson-Smyth

The NSPCC Child Protection Helpline is on 0800 500 500.

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