Around 200,000 children in Ireland have parents experiencing problems with alcohol, according to a new study.
The study from Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) and University College Cork’s School of Applied Psychology also found that 400,000 Irish people are adults who were brought up in such homes.
The researchers are calling for increased supports in schools to help authorities to identify children at home impacted by alcohol and offer them the supports they need to improve outcomes.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, AAI Chief Executive Sheila Gilheaney said the study listened to people whose parents struggled with alcohol in the past to find out what supports might have helped.
“We do estimate that there is something like 200,000 children in Ireland who are experiencing trauma from being brought up in homes that are impacted by alcohol,” she said.
“The impact of growing up with the trauma of parental alcohol abuse in the home can lead to lifelong troubles – that can be physical health, mental health and it cold be difficulty with emotional relationships later in life.
“But in school there is an opportunity for a child to get that support and that bit of recognition that there is a trauma going on there in the background and that is what the research has been about.”
She said the Irish system should look to other jurisdictions “where good things have been happening” in terms of supporting children in schools, like the Netherlands, the UK and the US.
“Very often there is that conflict within the child where they love the parent and the parent loves them too but they know the parent has not been able to be there for them,” she said.
“There is the uncertainty that they deal with. They can be sitting in the school and thinking about going home but they are not sure who they are actually going home to.
“Is it the loving parent? The parent who is able to be there for them? Or is it somebody else who is absent or in the most extreme cases perhaps there can be violence or other difficulties there.”