What Is the Connection between Alcohol and Child Abuse?

C. Daw

The issues of alcohol and child abuse are closely intertwined, prompting some researchers to call them “twin issues.” Children of alcoholic parents are among the most likely to suffer various forms of child abuse at home, including parental neglect when their alcoholic parents become incapable of fulfilling their parental duties. When these abused or neglected children grow up to become adults themselves, there is a very real risk that they too will become alcoholics. And if they have children of their own, they could end up abusing their own children and repeating the whole cycle of alcohol and child abuse all over again. It can continue generation after generation if no intervention is made to effectively treat the alcoholism and psychological issues of the parents.

Child neglect may be charged when an alcoholic parent or guardian leaves the child alone at home or endangers her in some other way.
Child neglect may be charged when an alcoholic parent or guardian leaves the child alone at home or endangers her in some other way.

Alcoholism is so widespread that it is an acknowledged epidemic in the United States. This is the reason why so many organizations and interest groups have been formed to help combat the problem. At the same time, there are also many support groups for abused children. These organizations recognize the severity of the issues of alcohol and child abuse, and their far-reaching consequences that can span many generations.

Child abuse refers to harm that is done to a minor.
Child abuse refers to harm that is done to a minor.

Child abuse at the hands of alcoholic parents, or other alcoholic relatives, can take various forms, all of which are very damaging. They can include emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and mental abuse, as well as child neglect, as mentioned earlier. What may not be very obvious is that even before the child is born, they already have the odds stacked against their favor if the pregnant mother-to-be is an alcoholic. Alcoholism during pregnancy makes the unborn child susceptible to many developmental problems and diseases.

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Alcoholic parents may use various forms of child abuse, such as emotional abuse, physical abuse, and mental abuse.
Alcoholic parents may use various forms of child abuse, such as emotional abuse, physical abuse, and mental abuse.

The problem goes beyond the merely physical, as the unborn child also becomes genetically predisposed to become an alcoholic. It sounds like science fiction, but a genetic predisposition toward alcoholism has in fact been heavily researched and documented, and it is now considered as one of the major risk factors for alcoholism. Thus, there really is more to alcohol and child abuse than what outsiders may observe at the present time in the victim’s family.

Alcoholic parents may deal with emotional issues they can pass on to their children.
Alcoholic parents may deal with emotional issues they can pass on to their children.

This underlines the need to treat alcoholism as soon as possible, especially when the alcoholic person is a parent. Alcohol and child abuse, just like drug abuse, damages not only the abusive person’s physical and mental health, but also impacts very heavily on all the family members. It affects their relationships outside the family as well, and work performance too, but the greatest negative impact is undoubtedly on the immediate family, especially on their children.

Children who have alcoholic parents are at a greater risk of abuse.
Children who have alcoholic parents are at a greater risk of abuse.
Alcoholism during pregnancy may lead to alcoholism when the child grows up.
Alcoholism during pregnancy may lead to alcoholism when the child grows up.

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