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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 May, 2004, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Calls for tax rise to help children
Kathleen Marshall
Kathleen Marshall says services are stretched
Scotland's new children's commissioner has called for a penny on income tax to pay for improvements to child protection agencies, which she claims are badly overstretched.

Kathleen Marshall made the radical suggestion after watching a BBC Panorama documentary on the problems faced by children with drug addicted parents, which is due to be broadcast on Sunday.

It is estimated there are between 250,000 and 350,000 children of drug addicted parents in the UK, while parental addiction problems feature in one in four cases on the Child Protection Register.

The programme also reveals some alarming new evidence from work done at Glasgow University's Centre for Drug Misuse Research about the problems these children face in later life.

Startling and moving

This new research indicates children in families where drugs are abused are seven times more likely than other children to start using illegal drugs

As well as suggesting a rise in income tax, the new commissioner for children and young people has also identified drug abuse in the family unit as a key target for her tenure.

Even when children and young people are surrounded by services that are there to protect them they often feel helpless and alone
Kathleen Marshall

She said: "Panorama (on Sunday) paints a startling and moving picture of what life is like for children whose parents are addicts.

"It is all the more compelling as we are looking through the eyes of the individual child, putting us in the children's' shoes.

"It also shows that even when children and young people are surrounded by services that are there to protect them they often feel helpless and alone."

Invisible children

The Panorama programme features child actors speaking the actual words of children with drug addicted parents. They speak of the violence, the neglect and the hardship, but also the loyalty and resilience of family life dominated by drugs.

Ms Marshall, who had worked for many years in the field of juvenile law field, is clear about what she hopes to achieve:

She said: "I am committed to ensuring that what these 'Invisible' children and young people have told us about their lives does not get forgotten.

"We have to listen to what they say they need and want from supportive services, and we have to come up with the goods, if we are to stop them hiding from a society that seeks to protect them."

Panorama: The Invisible Kids will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 9 May 2004 at 22:15 BST.



SEE ALSO:
The Invisible Kids
29 Apr 04  |  Panorama
Advice and stories for children
07 May 04  |  Panorama
Charities and confidential advice
07 May 04  |  Panorama
Your comments
07 May 04  |  Panorama


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