CHILDREN as young as 12 have been given specialist drug and alcohol treatment, figures have revealed.
And nine-year-olds have been give support because of their “drug misusing” parents.
Information obtained by the Oxford Mail shows that 67 children between the ages of 12 and 18 sought help for drug use between April last year and March this year. And 16 wanted support for alcohol use. This compares to a total of 90 children seeking help in the previous financial year.
Oxfordshire County Council said it couldn’t say how many children of each age if it was less than five as this could risk identifying children.
Every year since April 2011, less than five in the nine, 10 and 11-year-old groups recieved help for parents with drug problems.
County council cabinet member for children, education and families, Melinda Tilley, said she was shocked by the figures.
She said: “We should worry that they are getting younger and younger.
“It is such a shame that children are being subjected to alcohol at such a young age.
“It is a tragedy and they end up getting all sorts of health problems because of it.”
People are referred to the Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Service – paid for by the county council – by schools, GPs and parents.
Help includes one-to-one support, support groups and medical treatment in rare cases along with schemes like sending ex-drug users into schools.
The “Informed” programme was also introduced this year for Year 8 and 9 pupils and includes drama workshops by Creation Theatre Company.
Council head of commissioning for drugs and alcohol Jo Melling said: “It is an issue we take very seriously and have recently put in place new services to strengthen our response.”
She said of nine-year-olds: “Young people of this age get support because of a family member’s drug or alcohol problems which can impact on them significantly.”