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Teenager Tells Congress About Alcoholic Parent

Jeffrey Mills
Associated Press

May 2, 1085

A 16-year-old girl told a congressional committee Thursday what can happen to the children of alcholics.

Testifying about a friend, Constance Kaplan of Westchester County, N.Y., said, "Even though her parents were divorced and she was not living with him, she realized that being around him, seeing him and talking to him was becoming unbearable.

"About four years ago, my friend discovered that her father was an alcoholic. It seemed that this disease made him more irritable and more difficult to deal with. Soon after Christmas about two years ago, he made sexual advances toward her."

Miss Kaplan said her friend even became suicidal. "She had a terrible self-image. She had no way to get to a public clinic, and even if she had, she was too scared to do anything about it," she said.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families, said the hearing was the second in a series about "the family wreckage caused by alcohol abuse."

The girl described by Miss Kaplan is not alone. According to data from the Children of Alcoholics Foundation, Inc., one of every eight Americans _ 28 million girls and boys _ are children of problem drinkers.

Rep. Lindy Boggs, D-La., said the March 18 hearing established that alcohol abuse is connected to many of the most serious problems that American families face: separation and divorce, family violence of every sort, a host of emotional and behavior problems in young people, including delinquency, running away from home, even suicide."

Sue Rusche, author of a newspaper column on drug and alcohol abuse and executive director of the Families in Action National Drug Information Center in Atlanta, said Georgia's laws on these subjects were the basis for many state laws. "All any of us are asking the alcohol industry to do is obey the law, nothing more, nothing less."

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said alcohol producers spend over $2 billion a year promoting their products.


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