Study summarised:

The effect of the severity of parental alcohol abuse on mental and behavioural disorders in children

This is a quantitative empirical study in which the authors used a retrospective population-based cohort study, that included children born in Finland in 1997 and their biological parents, to evaluate whether the severity of parental alcohol abuse related to mental and behavioural disorders in children.

Significant findings?

  • The study makes reference to literature that confirms the detrimental impact on children when they grow up in households where the parent/s abuse alcohol.
  • Reference to literature that points to the early and established risks to children’s psychosocial health when exposed to alcohol abuse, is made.
  • Results from the study include: Mothers with severe alcohol abuse had a greater risk of financial difficulties, psychiatric disorders and not living with the child, compared to mothers with less severe alcohol abuse.
  • More results revealed that: Fathers with severe alcohol abuse also had a greater risk of not living with their child than those with less severe abuse problems.
  • Also: Children in such households suffered mostly from behavioural and emotional disorders and disorders of psychological development. Children with parents who abused alcohol were more likely to suffer from these disorders, mostly so among children whose parents severely abused alcohol than those whose parents abused alcohol to a lesser extent.
  • All in all, results of this study indicate that parents’ alcohol abuse has a negative effect on children’s psychological well-being, regardless of the severity of the problem or other factors.
  • Even though the abuse of alcohol by both mother and father had a detrimental impact on the child in terms of developing specific disorders; when mothers abused alcohol, it seemed to have more damaging effects on the child.

How can you relate this to practise?

  • As a child protection social worker, you might deal with families where there is alcohol abuse, and perhaps you need to convince the parents or the presiding officer, or another professional person that the impact of this abuse of alcohol is not in the best interest of the child, and in fact abusive (in short, medium and long term). Sometimes you might be asked to support your statement, whether verbally or in writing: then you can make reference to this study (among other supportive sources).
  • With this knowledge, you are empowered to act with more seriousness when you know a child grows up in a house where alcohol abuse is taking place – you can deliver early intervention services, education, arrange for rehabilitation, and empower the family with this knowledge.
  • If early intervention or prevention services fail, you will now know that the long term consequences for the child is very serious, and you could then consult with your supervisor to establish if statutory intervention is validated by the facts of the case, alongside the knowledge you gain from this and other precious stones.
  • If you make a recommendation in court to safeguard a child against the possible long term consequences of living in a house where alcohol is being abused, you can reference this study.
  • From reading this study, you might also discuss the seriousness of this problem with your supervisor or management to develop prevention programmes that is best suited for your community, to try and prevent the abuse of alcohol.

Carefully summarised by: