Study Confirms Over One Million Australian Children Impacted By Alcohol Abuse

By McCarton Ackerman 02/24/15

A joint research study found that alcohol is having a profoundly negative effect on Australian families.

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A new study out of Australia has confirmed that alcohol abuse is having a profoundly negative impact on families in the country, with problem drinking being responsible for up to half of all child protection and reported domestic violence cases.

The joint report from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and the Center for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR) found that over one million Australian kids are impacted by the alcohol abuse of others. Researchers interviewed families affected by alcohol abuse in 2008 and then again in 2011, in addition to compiling data from two national surveys, national police departments and child support services. The families who experienced harm from alcohol had someone in their family who consumed 11-14 drinks anywhere from three to five times per week.

They found that more than 10,000 kids are in the child protection system because of a caregiver’s driving and over 25% reported being impacted for a family member’s drinking. There are also over 30,000 police reported incidents of alcohol-related domestic violence each year. However, that number is likely even higher because data was not given for huge portions of the country, including Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT.

The scientists also found that children had been left unsupervised, verbally or physically abused due to the drinking of a family member. This problem drinking also appears to be long-term. Half of the families impacted by someone else's drinking in the first survey reported still being harmed by it in the second survey, while 35% of the kids affected by a caregiver’s drinking in 2008 were still impacted by it in 2011.

FARE chief Michael Thorn advised addressing this problem through public education campaigns, raising the price of alcohol and limiting the promotion and advertising of it. He also wants to see more joint collaboration between alcohol abuse, child protection and mental health service programs throughout the country.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.