The experience of pervasive loss: Children and young people living in a family where parental gambling is a problem

Abstract

Gambling research has contributed much to our understanding of the effects of gambling on families, yet we have only the most cursory understanding of the child's perspective on what it is like to grow up in such a family. The aim of this qualitative study was to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of Australian children who live in families where a parent or caregiver has a serious gambling problem by exploring the perspectives and understandings of the children and young people themselves. This paper reports a central finding, the experience of 'Pervasive Loss,' from our interviews with 15 young people, 11 males and 4 females, aged between 7 and 18 years. Their sense of loss encompassed both physical and existential aspects of the child's life, including their parent(s), relationships, trust, security, sense of home, and material goods. The dimensions of this experience of pervasive loss are explored from the child's perspective. Children living in families where gambling is a problem experience threats to their overall well-being to the extent that parental problem gambling must now considered to be a significant child health as well as social problem.

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