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The Developmental Outcomes of Children Born to Parental Substance Abusers Supported by Local Counselling Centres for Psychotropic Substance Abusers in Hong Kong

Author(s): Jiaye Lin, Maria Ming-Po Lai, Katy Kit-Ying Wan, Anna Wai-Fun Cheng, Benny Chung-Ying Zee

Background: Even though the harmful influences of parental substance abuse on children have been well studied globally, statistics on these children’s impacts in Hong Kong were not generally available. In this study, we aimed to assess the effects of drug-abusing parents on their children via a previous survey conducted at local drug treatment and rehabilitation centres in Hong Kong.

Methods: Data were collected from 124 previous surveys of substance abuse parents having children under the age of 12 using convenient sampling. The survey consisted of three domains, totalling 34 questions: basic information about the participants and their families, substance abuse experiences in the past six months, and the history of received services.

Results: Substance abuse parents had a high wido-wed/divorced/separated rate and unemployment rate. They were less likely to take care of children by themselves, especially substance abuse fathers, 17.62 times than substance abuse mothers (p<0.001). A high proportion of children at primary school age (6-12) were diagnosed or suspected special education needs (SEN) cases, accounting for 13.3%. About 15% of children and their parents showed child abuse risk factors.

Conclusions: The parental substance abuse and the family’s poor marital and financial conditions negatively affected the optimal care and good-enough parenting provision for children, leading to poor developmental outcomes and an increased risk of behaviour problems.

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