Kids dying because of drinking – experts

NZ Herald 22 March 2012
Hundreds of children are injured, killed or abused every year by caregivers who have been drinking but agencies are failing to grasp the extent of the problem, experts say. An Alcohol Action conference on children and alcohol in Wellington today heard how the true extent of the problem was unknown because of a lack of reliable statistics on alcohol harm to others. Otago University head of preventive and social medicine Professor Jennie Connor said most of the information routinely gathered by government agencies, social workers and hospitals did not include such data.

“Of course we don’t need more data in order to do something about these problems but the gaps in knowledge are important because we get a biased idea of the impact of alcohol, and we need the information in order to be strong advocates,” she said. “We carefully carry out surveillance of things like infectious diseases in New Zealand, and we collect this information so that we can act on it. We can identify trouble spots, we know what the trends are. We don’t do this for alcohol-related harm to others. We need to.”

Prof Connor said her research found hospital emergency departments had no systematic way of collecting data on alcohol-related injuries, even for patients who caused the harm to themselves. And Child, Youth and Family was unable to supply data on how widespread alcohol use was in cases of neglect or emotional, sexual or physical abuse. Prof Connor’s research team asked CYF for statistics but the request was declined because the agency’s data was of insufficient quality for the researchers to use.
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