The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Wales reports they made 572 referrals to police and government agencies regarding substance use in the past 10 months. This is a 72% rise of referrals since the pandemic hit the country. According to NSPCC, the UK’s leading children’s charity, families which were not known to the children’s services before are now requiring support for substance use problems.
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,” said Kam Thandi, head of NSPCC Helpline, as per BBC.Kam Thandi, head of NSPCC Helpline
As a result, children of families affected by substance use problems are at greater risk of harm during the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic school was a safe place for many of these children. Now, with schools being closed they are trapped in unsafe environments at home. These children may not always suffer abuse but would be less cared for by their families.
The NSPCC calls on the government, health boards and councils to maintain services for substance use problems throughout the pandemic. Currently, the Welsh government invests £54 million in services for substance use issues. Of that, only £2.75 million are allocated for children and families.
Alcohol harm continues to take many lives in Wales and England. Deaths caused by alcohol in Wales and England hit the highest since 2001 during the first nine months of 2020. Provisional official figures show 5,460 deaths registered with this cause between January and September, 2020.