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Parental alcohol misuse harms more children than illegal drugs, says Children's Commissioner

A new report recommends that the government should pay as much attention to alcohol misuse within families as it does to drug misuse.

The study - commissioned by the Community Research Company for the Office of the Children's Commissioner - investigates the impact of alcohol on the children of parents who misuse the substance.

The research highlights the following issues:

  • 30% live with at least one parent who is a binge drinker (between 3.3-3.5 million children);
  • 5% live with a ‘problematic’ drinker, defined as ‘hazardous’ or ‘harmful’ (nearly 3 million children);
  • 6% live with a dependent drinker (over 700,000 children);
  • around 79,000 babies under 1 in England are living with a parent who is classified as a ‘problematic’ drinker… equivalent to 93,500 babies in the UK.

Despite these findings, Children's Commissioner for England Dr Maggie Atkinson says the problem of alcohol misuse within families is not taken as seriously as that of drug misuse. Dr Atkinson urges the government to act on the recommendations given in the report, so we might "prevent some children from losing their childhoods".

A copy of the report, titled 'Silent Voices', can be accessed here. (pdf 1.2mb)