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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 16:32 GMT
Parent alcohol abuse support plea
Man holding bottle of spirits
About 100,000 children may be affected by parental alcohol abuse
Children with alcohol-abusing parents need the same level of services directed at families of drug-users, according to a new report.

It said a "cultural acceptance" of heavy drinking may be leading to delays in identifying the impact on children.

The study, by the Aberlour Child Care Trust and the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, said alcohol services needed to be improved.

It also called for more research and a campaign to raise awareness.

The authors of the report, A Matter of Substance? Alcohol or Drugs: Does it make a difference to the child?, said about 100,000 Scottish children were affected by parental alcohol abuse.

'Heads in sand'

Aberlour's chief executive, Addie Stevenson, said: "Tolerant attitudes towards alcohol are having a significant and sometimes devastating effect on children.

"While living with problem parental alcohol use may appear less stigmatising than living with problem parental drug use, for our children and young people, ignoring the impact on them, on parenting and on family life is like sticking our heads in the sand.

"If we are to really help today's and tomorrow's children we must work together and face the challenges raised in this report."

Louise Morgan, young carers' services co-ordinator for the Princess Royal Trust, said that young people looking after someone who is misusing alcohol make up around a third of the carers they support.

We would strongly advise children and young people who are in this situation to realise that they are certainly not alone
Louise Morgan
The Princes Royal Trust Carers

"Parents are often in denial of a problem, and may resent their children seeking help from outside, highlighting 'weaknesses' in their parenting, and so many young carers remain 'hidden' behind their problems at home and do not come forward for support," she added.

"We would strongly advise children and young people who are in this situation to realise that they are certainly not alone, and that they should, if possible, confide in someone they can trust, such as a teacher or school nurse or doctor in order to get help and support."

Campaigners claimed the report underlined the need for grandparents to be given increased legal rights so that they could intervene more easily when there were problems within the family.

"Because grandparents are irrelevant persons in their grandchildren's lives, by law, abuse in the home will continue and get worse," said Jimmy Deuchars of Glasgow-based self-help group Grandparents Apart.

"The government is not helping and will not acknowledge the army of grandparents that are available to possibly spot problems like this, should they have the right.

"They are failing to take heed of the warnings and use the resources that are readily available and won't cost them a fortune."

Tom Wood, the chair of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, said the next step was to change policy and practice.

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