Alcohol's Harm to Children: Findings from the 2015 United States National Alcohol's Harm to Others Survey

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine the prevalence and severity of alcohol's harm to children in the US and the relationship of the harmer to the child, and to examine caregivers' sociodemographic characteristics, alcohol use, and exposure to harm due to a drinking spouse/partner or other family member as risk factors for alcohol's harm to children.

Study design

We report data on 764 caregivers (defined as persons with parental responsibility for at least 1 child aged ≤17 years) from the 2015 National Alcohol's Harm to Others Survey, a dual-frame national sample of US adults.

Results

Overall 7.4% of caregivers reported alcohol's harm to children in the past year. Risk factors for alcohol's harm to children included the caregiver's own experience of alcohol's harm from a spouse/partner or other family member. Caregivers with a heavy drinker in the household were significantly more likely to report harm to children. A caregiver's own heavy drinking was not a significant risk factor for children in his or her care.

Conclusions

Alcohol places a substantial burden on children in the US. Although a caregiver's own drinking can harm children, other drinkers also increase the risk of alcohol's harm to children. Screening caregivers to determine whether there is a heavy drinker in the household may help reduce alcohol's harm in the family without stigmatizing caregivers, who themselves may not be heavy drinkers.

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