Teenage drink and drug use fears in Sunderland
Hundreds of vulnerable youngsters in Sunderland have struggled with substance misuse, new figures suggest.
Authorities in the area have flagged up hundreds of concerns about children abusing alcohol or drugs over the last four years, according to Department for Education data.
The figures show 447 concerns about child-related alcohol misuse and 655 cases relating to drug abuse were identified during assessments of children in need in Sunderland between since 2017-18 – with 155 cases involving drug use and 241 about alcohol misuse in the last year.
Nationally, concerns around drug or alcohol use were identified 39,000 times at child assessments in 2020-21.
Barnardo's interim co-CEO Michelle Lee-Izu said the figures were alarming and that the impact of the pandemic on young people's mental health could have contributed to their use of drugs and alcohol.
She said: “To counter this, and help children and young people cope with the trauma, loss and adversity they have experienced, we need a radically different approach to ensure they get the support they need."
A Government spokeswoman said it was providing investment to charities supporting vulnerable children and giving billions of pounds to local authorities to help them respond to pressures, including for children's services.
She added: “We’re also making £24m available for a regional recovery fund for children’s social care, to tackle the most pressing issues vulnerable children face in those areas, as well as providing more investment in mental health support and championing family hubs so parents can get support services for themselves and their children.”