Children are the future. We all want to protect and offer children the best in this world so that they can grow up to be healthy adults who live up to their fullest potential. But rowing up in an environment disrupted by alcohol can seriously affect the development, health and future of children. Unfortunately, one in five children in Sweden live in a household with alcohol problems.
There are many negative consequences children from alcohol disrupted environments face. The likelihood of early school drop out is twice or three times bigger for these vulnerable children. But basic quality education is the right of all children and means a pathway to a better life in the future.
A recent research study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that children from households with heavy alcohol use have a much higher risk of experiencing a range of poor outcomes:
- Mental health disorders in childhood and/or adolescence;
- Infant/child mortality;
- Being convicted of a crime later on in life;
- Lower academic achievement;
- Experiencing abuse and/or neglect;
- Having an out-of-home placement (e.g., foster care); and
- Having an elevated risk for hospitalizations for physical illness and injury.
These are severe problems and clear examples of alcohol’s social harms.
In Sweden, the situation for vulnerable children growing up in a household with substance use problems became even worse during the pandemic. As the latest municipality report of Junis found:
- 320,000 Swedish children are estimated to live in a household with an alcohol problem, meaning 15% of all children.
- During the pandemic it has taken support workers longer to conduct home visits leading to escalation of problems.
- Out of the municipalities who responded to Junis’ survey, 96% claim they offered support to children who grow up in a household with substance use problems. However, only about 1% or 3,469 children have actually participated in these support activities.
This is why on World Children’s Day, October 1, 2021, Junis, launched a brand new knowledge portal for adults to help children who live in environments disurpted by substance use problems.
Junis believes that if children who live in environments with alcohol problems can access support, it would increase the chances of them understanding and overcoming their situation and developing as healthy adults.
The new knowledge portal primarily targets adults who work with children in different contexts: School, pre-school, leisure time, and even professionals of the Social Services. However, it is not limited to these groups and has useful information for anyone who wants to know more about the problem or offer help.
The portal is divided into several categories:
- What everyone needs to know about children from households with substance use problems;
- How to identify early and help children from households with substance use problems;
- For professional of the Social Services;
- For professional in pre-schools;
- For school staff;
- How to talk with children about difficult topics; and
- Action plans.
Junis hopes with the new portal more children who live in a household with substance use problems are discovered and supported.