225 children under the age of ten have been admitted to hospital in Scotland for alcohol-related injuries or illnesses in the last three years, according to figures released under a Freedom of Information request. The figure rose drastically to 4,884 children within the 10-18 year age bracket during the same period, The Scotsman has revealed.
According to the figures released under the FOI request, which was lodged by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, NHS Ayrshire and Arran had the highest number of cases, with 86 under-tens treated between 2011 and 2013. NHS Tayside and NHS Forth Valley were the second and third worst affected, with 61 cases and 33 cases respectively.
These three NHS trusts were also those with the highest incidences for those aged between 10 and 18, with NHS Ayrshire and Arran treating 1,483 cases between 2011 and 2013, NHS Tayside seeing 1,385 cases, and NHS Forth Valley treating 612 cases in that time. There was a fall in numbers year on year, from a total of 1,743 in 2011 to 1,469 in 2013.
Whilst the figures are deeply disturbing, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have wasted no time in using them to call for ever more government involvement in people’s lives, rather than trying to get to the bottom of why underage drinking occurs in the first place.
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman and Member of the Scottish Parliament Jim Hume said “These figures show that young people will pay the price for Scotland’s failure to tackle problem drinking. Our freedom of information requests have shown that the last three years alone almost 5000 young people aged between 10 and 18 have been treated for alcohol-related injuries or illness.
“Problem drinking can rip apart families and places enormous financial strain on our public services, from our hospitals to our criminal justice system.
“If we are to change our national drinking culture young people must be given the education they need to make informed decisions about the impact alcohol misuse can have on their lives. Scottish Government ministers must work with young people to develop the most effective response to these troubling figures.”
Scotland has been becoming increasingly authoritarian in its governmental style. Earlier this year the Scottish Government passed legislation assigning every child in Scotland aged 18 or younger a state guardian, even those who have perfectly capable parents or guardians. The legislation is being challenged by the Christian Institute in the courts as a “dreadful extension of the state’s tentacles into family life”.
The charity’s director Colin Hart said “It is clear that this Bill breaches European rules through its attack on the family. This is Big Brother politics writ large. Ordinary Scots should be very afraid.”