Dagen, the Christian Daily and Ekuriren reported today that 200,000 children of addict parents lack support in our nation. Of the 200,000 children involved, only 2% will receive support in the municipality. These figures come from a report from the IOGT-NTO junior department which is a special organization working for the sobriety/temperance movement here in Sweden.
The report, yearly released for the last five years, addresses the difficulty of getting children of drug- or alcohol addicted parents involved in the support groups which are available in a number of different cities and towns in our nation.
The results of the year 2008 inquiry in the municipalities show that:
– 261 of 290 municipalities answered the questionnaire
– 74% (192 of 261) can offer support groups for this goal group.
– 35% will use more resources to develop ministry to these children (for a more detailed report check here for a download).
Thus far an extract of the report.
We are facing a real serious issue… about a month ago our church (www.newlife.nu ) was invited by the county council to receive a reward for our ministry against segregation. As I was there I was spending time with some of the governing politicians whose responsibility was to pursue initiatives towards children and youth. During our conversation I addressed especially the situation of the children to addicts (since we minister to addicts within the context of the church). He had recognized the same problem as I had seen similar to the one addressed in the report.
And I was thinking, here we have these thousands of children and youth who have been raised under pressure and are like “walking wounded” individuals who are still in the development stages of their lives and yet, we cannot help them to deal with their traumas, their fears and their hurts. We spend tremendous amounts on the rehabilitation of their parents and yet, they are hardly considered. This last statement I have to explain: they are considered and thought off, the sheer presence of such a report show that.
However, I do know that we have no means to get in direct contact with these children and youth. In contrast to their parents we have little follow-up on their whereabouts. They seem to disappear in the system, not even our social authorities seem to be able to connect with them as a group. Of course we have to realize that so many of these children have gone through such heavy traumas that they might be happy to be able to be in other, more healthy, environments and are therefore not receptive to engage in treatment, therapy or plain support allowing others to re-open wounds they try forget they have.
The big questions are:
· How do we identify them as individuals and as group?
· How do we structure support for them from the very first moment one of the authorities or other organizations is confronted with them and their family’s situation?
· How do we then synchronize our resources, know-how and personnel to create networks of professionals and volunteers who can be part of their daily life?
· How can we provide an accountability structure for all involved to ensure the possibility to develop a relationship with every single child motivating him/her for the kind of help they need?
· How can we remain in touch with these children even when they have gone on to live with their parents and/or other adults?
I don’t have answers, just questions at the moment. What do you know, think, suggest? How can we together be part of the answer these children need?