The NSPCC’s Helpline received more than 3,000 calls from people reporting drug and alcohol use around children in the South East over the last three years.
The charity, which is considered one of the UK’s leading child protection charities, says it received 1,066 calls on the issues from the region this year, with 970 considered so serious that outside agency were alerted.
The number is up by 14 per cent since 2013 /14, when 934 people got in touch and 809 cases referred.
NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless said: “Drug and alcohol abuse can have hugely damaging effects around children and it’s clearly troubling to see a rise over time in reports of this problem to our helpline.
“Substance misuse all too often leads to the neglect or abuse of a child and it’s absolutely crucial that we do all we can to stop that. The NSPCC provides services across the UK directly to families suffering from these problems to help them overcome them and provide their children with a safe and secure upbringing.
“But everyone has a duty to look out for potential signs of distress and the NSPCC’s helpline is there to provide help and support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
In all the charity says it has received 3,264 calls about the issue in the last three years, leading to 2,911 referrals.
As a result, The NSPCC says, the problem is so serious it has accounted for almost 20 per cent of its referrals to external agencies in the last three years.
The figures have been released as the UK marks the start of Children of Alcoholics Week, which aims to raise awareness of the problems and suffering associated with parental alcohol problems.
The NSPCC says substance misuse is a significant risk for children and often leads to neglect and abuse. Excessive alcohol consumption or use of drugs inevitably make it difficult for parents to deal with family life and often put pressure on relationships.
The charity says children’s feelings, their relationship with their parents and how they’re looked after are all inevitably affected.
Across the UK, there were more than 25,000 helpline contacts focused on the issue.
One member of the public got in touch with the NSPCC helpline to report concerns of drug taking in a home also occupied by children.
The caller said: “They have a party going on in the house every weekend; I see lots of people entering and leaving the property and there is a strong smell of drugs lingering in the air when this happens.
“The children are inside the home when the parties are taking place and I’m becoming worried for their welfare. The mother has a drinking problem and she regularly leaves the children at home on their own too.
“I don’t want to approach her myself as it may create tension between us. What should I do?”
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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