Calls about parents abusing drink and drugs soar Rise in calls during the festive season

Alchol bottlesCalls made to our helpline about drinking and drugs typically rocket during December, with at least 1 a day being passed to social services because a child is in danger.

That's why we're urging the public to speak up if they think that a child is at risk.

Last December these referrals increased by 50%, and we alerted authorities 30 times about parents bingeing on drink and drugs compared to 20 the previous year.

This is not a problem which occurs exclusively during the festive season. But our professional counsellors do see a rise at this time of year with calls coming typically from neighbours, relatives, and the public.

"I'm really worried about the safety of a child who lives nearby. I regularly see his parents under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Sometimes I can hear them shouting and screaming profanities at each other whilst the child is in the home. It's really upsetting."
Concerned neighbour

Our predictions this year

Because referrals this year have already significantly exceeded previous years', we believe that we'll have to alert authorities even more this Christmas. Between April and October this year, we've had to alert social services 218 times, compared to 134 between 2014-15, and 111 between 2013-14.

While many families will enjoy harmless social drinks as part of the Christmas celebrations, for some parents this is part of an ongoing, destructive pattern that puts a child at risk and peaks over the festive period.

"Christmas is usually a happy occasion with lots of celebrations, but it's clear from the increasing number of phone calls that, for too many children, it can be a bleak and terrifying time. All children need a stable, safe environment to grow up in, and a parent's ability to care for their child can be seriously eroded if they are misusing drink or drugs."
Peter Wanless / Chief Executive of NSPCC

Contact the NSPCC helpline

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our professional counsellors for help, advice and support.

Call us or email

0808 800 5000

Find out more