Scottish children at risk from drug- and drink-addicted parents doubles since pandemic

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THE number of Scottish parents putting their children at serious risk through drug and alcohol abuse has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic.

NSPCC staff referred an average of 63 helpline calls a month to Police Scotland and other agencies since April 1 last year.

The charity referred an average of 26 calls a month before the “perfect storm” of Coronavirus struck.

The number of helpline calls serious enough to be referred to the police and other agencies has doubled since the start of the pandemic

According to the NSPCC, they passed on a total of 626 helpline calls to the authorities between April 1 last year and the end of January.

Children in homes where parents or carers abuse alcohol are more likely to suffer abuse or neglect as well as a serious impact on their emotional well-being, said the charity.

The problem has been exacerbated by the closure of schools, which left some children without an escape route from parents struggling with substance abuse.

Kam Thandi, head of the NSPCC’s helpline, said: “Parental substance misuse can have a seriously detrimental impact on the whole family.

“The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have created a perfect storm for families affected by this problem.”

Thandi added: “At the NSPCC helpline we’ve not only seen a rise in contacts and referrals but we’re also seeing families who weren’t previously known to children’s services requiring help and support for substance misuse.

 “The pressures on families at the moment are unprecedented and it is no surprise that our helpline is hearing that parents and carers are struggling with substance misuse.”

Thandi said it was vital for parents struggling with substance abuse to get help.

“The Scottish Government must also invest more in local services,” added Thandi.

“Our frontline practitioners have told us that many parents and carers are struggling to access specialist support services which will help them recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

The NSPCC service centre in Glasgow runs a programme called Parents under Pressure, which supports parents and carers with substance misuse or mental health difficulties.

The programme provides advice to parents on how to develop good relationships with their children and deal with challenging behaviour, as well as their own emotions.