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Children forced to live in dirty and dangerous conditions

Many children are being forced to live in dirty and even dangerous surroundings and lack many essentials including having enough to eat and clean clothes to wear because the household money is frittered away on booze, the charity warned.

My dad has been drinking and taking drugs a lot recently - it's ruining our family.

He gets angry when he has been drinking so he says nasty things to us like we are stupid and worthless. I'm finding it difficult to deal with because underneath it all I know he's a really good dad.

– A child, who cannot be identified, speaking to ChildLine.

The emotional trauma of their parents' substance abuse combined with their chaotic home lives is driving many children to depression, self harm and even suicidal thoughts, the NSPCC said.

Number of children calling ChildLine doubles in a year

The number of children calling ChildLine to confide in a counsellor about their parents' drinking and drug abuse has doubled in the past year, the charity has revealed.

The 24-hour helpline received 5,323 calls - more than 100 a week - from children scared by their parents' behaviour, a rise on the 2,509 calls it fielded the year before.

The number of children calling calling ChildLine has increased. Credit: read: Jon Challicom/ChildLine/PA Wir

Most of the children turning to the NSPCC-run service were between the ages of 12 and 15, but a substantial minority - one in 10 - were aged 11 or under and still at primary school.

In a stark warning, the charity said thousands of children live in fear of being on the receiving end of their parents' anger, with one in six saying they had fallen victim to physical violence by their mum or dad when they were under the influence.


Charity CEO: We must 'urgently' make roads child safe

Sustrans launched its Campaign for Safer Streets today, urging parents to write to their MP to demand every child be given the right to a safe journey to school.

Sustrans chief executive Malcolm Shepherd said:

In 2012, a total of 33 children were killed and more than 1,800 were seriously injured while walking or cycling. If a whole classroom of children had been killed under other circumstances there would be public outcry.

There's a simple solution in our hands. We must urgently make our roads safer for those children already making a healthy, active school run and also to encourage those who don't feel safe enough to start walking or cycling.

– Malcolm Shepherd

'44% of parents consider road safety biggest concern'

A total of 470 parents who have a child aged five to 11 who travels to and from school were polled in a survey from the sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

In the parents survey it showed:

  • 18% said their child had experienced a vehicle not stopping at a pedestrian crossing
  • 13% said their child had experienced a speeding vehicle nearly hitting them.
  • 5% said their child had been hit by a vehicle while walking
  • 44% said the safety of their child on the road was their biggest concern.

Road safety more concern to parents than 'strangers'

More than 40% of parents of five to 11-year olds say their child has been involved in a near-miss while walking or cycling to or from school, according to a survey by transport charity Sustrans.

Road safety is more of a concern to parents than "stranger danger", the survey from sustainable transport charity Sustrans also found, with 44% classing it above a stranger walking off with their son or daughter.

33 school children representing the number of child cyclists and child pedestrians killed during the school run in 2012. Credit: Bob Collier/PA Wire

Parents that were polled said that slower speeds and more dedicated walking and cycling routes and safer crossings were among the most important traffic measures that would allow their child to get to school without worry.

Parents urged to tell child 'I love you' every day

Parents are being urged to tell their children they love them every day in an effort to boost youngsters' self-esteeem.

A new leaflet also says mums and dads should refrain from swearing, shouting or smoking in front of their children.

The advice from the National Association of Head Teachers and charity Family Action comes amid fears that the pressures of modern life mean parents are forgetting the "little things" that can give their children extra confidence.


Doctors set out steps to reduce UK child deaths

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has set out a number of measures it wants the Government to take to reduce infant mortality, including tightening road traffic laws and bringing in minimum alcohol pricing.

  • withdraw the Government's welfare cap to avoid high living costs hitting poor families
  • a 20mph speed limit in built-up areas to stop road accidents
  • a Graduated Licence scheme for new drivers
  • better health education in schools
  • introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol
  • more action to stop mothers smoking during pregnancy

Child deaths 'disproportionately high' among poor

Child deaths are "disproportionately" high among the poorest families in the UK, a group of leading children's doctors has said.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) also found that British children were at a higher risk of premature death than children in other parts of Western Europe.

The RCPCH report also hit out at politicians for offering "piecemeal" solutions to the problem of infant mortality.

Hundreds of under-12's 'referred for drug treatment'

The Press Association have approached councils across the UK and found children as young as four being referred by education and children's services to alcohol and drug specialists.

In the Freedom of Information request, more than half of under-13s - 59% - received treatment for cannabis misuse, while a third were treated for alcohol misuse.

A small number abused solvents.

A bedroom at a treatment centre for drug addicts and alcoholics. Credit: PA/PA Archive

Eight-year-olds had been referred to services in Waltham Forest and East Ayrshire, while nine-year-olds had been referred in Herefordshire, Liverpool, Oxfordshire, Rutland, the Scottish Borders and West Berkshire.

Authorities in Bury, Calderdale, Halton, Hull, Monmouthshire and Rochdale had seen 10-year-olds referred.

Some 366 children aged 12 or under were referred for treatment in 2012/13 in England, according to the most recent figures from Public Health England, compared with 433 in 2011/12.

UK needs 'urgent improvements in child health services'

Steve McCabe, shadow minister for children and families said he was "shocked" by findings stating children as young as four are being referred to drug treatment centres in the UK.

He said: "The government's current strategy towards drugs isn't working. This highlights the need for an urgent improvement in children and adolescent mental health services".

Government needs 'a proper strategy to deal' with the challenges of growing up. Credit: REUTERS/Lewis Whyld/Pool

McCabe continued by saying a previous Home Affairs Select Committee set up "was interested in the way Portugal manages drug problems" and that there needs to be a "proper strategy to deal with many of the challenges of growing up."

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