Adults contacted the charity with concerns that a parents’ use of alcohol or drugs was affecting their ability to provide a safe and supportive environment for their children..
The person said: ‘I’m really worried for the safety of a child living with his parents. There is always heavy smoke lingering around the family home and I regularly see the parents intoxicated with 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.’
Another worried relative told the NSPCC: ‘The children were meant to see their mum, but she had been drinking and was not in a suitable state for the children to see her.
‘This isn’t the first time and the children usually stay with a friend of the mum when it happens. I’m worried that she’s unable to give them the care that they need.’
In many cases, other concerns such as neglect, physical and emotional abuse against the child, domestic abuse and parents’ mental health issues were also raised.
More than a third of the children referred to police or local authorities were aged between one and five, with a further 581 being less than a year old, including unborn children.
John Cameron, head of helplines at the charity, said: ‘Every child should be able to grow up in a home where they feel safe and supported. The sad fact is that many young people are being deprived of this simple right due to one or both of their parents abusing drink and drugs.’
The NSPCC supports families where parental substance misuse is present and causing a problem by delivering ‘Parents Under Pressure’, a home-based programme originally designed and tested in Australia.
Together with the University of Warwick, the NSPCC has published an evaluation of the scheme.
The study revealed that those receiving the programme had showed a number of improvements to their behaviour in the family home. Most importantly the risk of child abuse had decreased and had been sustained six months later.