Dare to Debate: Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

The second instalment of our Dare to Debate seminar series explores the issue of drinking alcohol during pregnancy

The second in our Dare to Debate series will take place on Tuesday 17th February, focusing on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

It's estimated that 7,000 babies are born in the UK every year suffering the effects of FAS. These effects can include physical and mental problems, facial defects, learning and behaviour disorders and liver damage. However, in a recent High Court case a young victim lost a claim for criminal injuries damages because she was not considered to have a 'legal personality' when harm was inflicted on her.


The Chief Medical Officer is now reviewing the often conflicting and confusing advice given by various bodies about drinking during pregnancy. And an MP has recently introduced a Bill to Parliament that would make it compulsory for alcoholic drinks to carry clear warnings about the risks of FAS.

There will be plenty of opportunity for questions on the day. Key areas to be covered include:

  • what more can be done to prevent the unborn being harmed by alcohol
  • how  we can balance the rights of parents with babies
  • what needs to be done to introduce a more coherent policy and practice framework.

These seminars, which feature prominent speakers, are designed to provoke debate around serious issues facing children today. This latest debate will be chaired by  Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO.

Speaker panel

Julia is an adoptive mum of two children. She and her husband, Simon, started The FASD Trust to provide support for other parents of children with FASD.

Julia writes and lectures widely on FASD, particularly its impact on family life and on professional practice.

Sharon Dawe is a Professor in Clinical Psychology at Griffith University, Australia. She has been working as a researcher and clinician in the field of substance misuse and mental health for over 20 years, including posts at the:

  • Institute of Psychiatry, University of London
  • National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW

Sharon's current work focuses on reducing child maltreatment in high risk families with parental substance abuse and mental illness. She has developed the Parents Under PressureTM program in collaboration with Paul H Harnett (University of Queensland).

Judith Masson studied at Cambridge and Leicester Universities in England, and at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, USA. Between 1991 and 2005, she was Professor of Law at Warwick University, specialising in child law and socio-legal research.

Judith joined the University of Bristol as Professor of Socio-Legal Studies in January 2006. She teaches Family Law and International Child Law.

Dr Raja Mukherjee is an Adult Learning Disability Consultant Psychiatrist for Surrey and Border’s Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. He has interest in the management of developmental disorders across the lifespan.

Raja is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at St George’s. In 2009 he started the first NHS based specialist FASD behavioural clinic and since then has seen over 100 cases for specialist second opinion.

Peter Newell works as an advocate for children's rights, in the UK and internationally. He is Coordinator of the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children and of the Children are unbeatable! Alliance. He chaired the Council of the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) from 2008 to 2014.

Together with Rachel Hodgkin, Peter has prepared successive editions of UNICEF's Implementation Handbook for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Peter has been Hon. Adviser to ENOC, the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children since its inception in 1997.

Previous Dare to Debate seminars

Children or sex objects – where has it all gone wrong?

The first in the Dare to Debate series looked at the sexualisation of children in society today. Our expert panel of speakers included:

  • Nazir Afzal, Chief Prosecutor for the North West. Nazir led the Rochdale grooming gang prosecution.
  • Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of the Mothers' Union, Reg wrote, 'Letting Children be Children' which looked at the commercialisation of children.
  • Dionne Taylor, criminal lecturer at Birmingham City University. Dionne has undertaken research into the influence of pop videos on young girls.
  • Maris Stratulis, England Manager for the British Association of Social Workers.
  • Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC's sexual abuse programmes.

For more information about Dare to Debate, please email our national media office

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