Nearly one in three children lives with a parent who is a binge drinker, campaigners have warned today.
The figure equates to between 3.3 million and 3.5 million children in the United Kingdom living with at least one parent who downs six or more drinks on a single occasion for women or eight for men.
Around 93,500 babies aged under 12 months in the UK are living with a parent who is classified as a "hazardous" drinker (increasing the risk of harm to oneself or others), according to studies by the Community Research Company and used by the Office of the Children's Commissioner (OCC).
Approximately 31,000 babies under a year live with a parent who would be classified as a "dependent" drinker.
The OCC today published a report - Silent Voices: supporting children and young people affected by parental alcohol misuse - highlighting the extent of the problem.
The report's recommendations are directed at Government, policy makers, health and social care professionals, and those who commission and provide local services.
The OCC said during the last 10 to 15 years improvements have been made.
– Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England
It does not concern only child protection professionals, though alcohol abuse can put children's safety at sustained, serious risk.
The problem affects large numbers of children who never come to the notice of children's social care.
They should not need to do so if there are services prepared to support them and their families at an earlier stage.
– A Government spokesman
The earlier that help is given to vulnerable children and families, the more chance there is of turning lives around and protecting children.
Our reforms are focused on cutting unnecessary bureaucracy so professionals can identify and tackle problems as early as possible.
By overhauling the alcohol licensing laws, local communities will have more power to tackle problem pubs and clubs.
We are working with the alcohol industry which has pledged to take one billion units out of the UK's alcohol intake and introduce a minimum unit price.
Binge drinking in families statistics
- 1 in 3 of children live with at least one parent who is a binge drinker (between 3.3 - 3.5 million children).
- A fifth live a hazardous drinker (over 2.5 million children).
- Around 79,000 babies aged under 1 years old in England are living with a parent who is classified as a prolematic drinker.
- Around 26,000 babies under 1 in England are livign with a parent who would be classified as a dependent drinker.
- Binge drinking: Six or more drinks on a single occasion for women; eight for men.