17% of adults felt unsafe as children when parents drank

NEARLY a sixth of Irish adults admit to having felt afraid or unsafe as children due to their parents drinking.

The research from Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) also shows that nearly a fifth of Irish adults remember witnessing drink-related arguing among their parents.

This comes after a National Study of Domestic Abuse found, in a third of cases, alcohol was a potential trigger for abusive behaviour and that in one-in-four of the most severe cases, alcohol was always involved.

It also emerged 9% of those interviewed said they were often embarrassed as children by their parents’ drinking and that 7% often had to take responsibility for looking after the parent or their siblings during drinking binges.

The AAI research, by Behaviour and Attitudes, on childhood experiences of parental drinking was carried out on a sample of 1,000 18 to 40-year-old adults. It showed no differences among the various socioeconomic groups.

Alcohol Action Ireland chief executive Fiona Ryan said: “We commissioned the survey in order to gain an insight into the potential scale of the problem for children and families now – the impact of parental alcohol problems are not just yesterday’s problems but today’s and tomorrow’s too.

“This research provides only a glimpse into a problem but it provides a case for the Government to initiate a comprehensive examination of the extent and impact of parental alcohol problems on children’s welfare and well being and the services available to support children and families. Fear and anxiety make bad childhood friends,” she said.

Alcohol Action Ireland’s call for greater research was supported by the country’s leading children’s charities. Barnardos and the ISPCC.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr Sarah Buckley warned yesterday that parental alcohol misuse can interrupt a child’s development.

“Children whose parents abuse alcohol are at a higher risk of emotional, physical, psychological, social and educational difficulties.

“They are also at risk of being neglected and not having their needs met. It is important that we understand the extent of the problem in Ireland,” she said.

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