In the Media

Troubled families: alcohol, truancy and domestic violence among problems

PUBLISHED July 18, 2012

Louise Casey, who is heading the Government's troubled families unit, spent eight months travelling the country and meeting some of those identified by local councils.

Their problems ranged from heavy drinking, drug use and truanting children to domestic violence and sexual abuse.

One woman she met lived with 10 children aged four to 18 in a three-bedroom house.

The family had lost everything they owned in a fire at their previous address and the two eldest sons were in trouble with the police, according to the BBC, who sat in on some of the sessions with Ms Casey.

The mother, who cannot be named, had recently come out of a violent relationship and was drinking heavily.

She was also going out and leaving the older children to look after the younger ones.

She told Ms Casey: "In the end you turned it right like you were being the victim. You didn't see what you or your children were doing.

"They didn't start off as horrible children or your worst neighbour going, but became that way."

A second woman said she was left to look after her five sons aged one to 18 more or less unaided by their father, who spent most of his time and much of the family's cash on cannabis.

The children were not going to school and the family owed £3,000 of rent arrears and were facing eviction from their council home because of what the older boys were doing on the estate.

Another woman explained how her own problems had started, telling Ms Casey: "My mother used to beat me with a belt and lock me in a bedroom with no food and water.

"At my second foster parents I got sexually abused by the father and son."

An official analysis of the issue of troubled families found most of their problems dated back generations.