PARENTS are being thrown a safety line to help with the challenges of raising children.

An interactive website and telephone hotline are being launched to head off family problems before they become major crises.

Help on issues ranging from bad behaviour, bullying and drug abuse will be available to 275,000 parents across Teesside and in the Darlington area.

The idea of the partnership of the Safe in Tees Valley and Parentline Plus schemes has the enthusiastic support of Cabinet Office Minister Ian McCartney, whose son, Hugh, died as a result of heroin addiction.

He said: "Even though he had a loving and stable family behind him, Hugh still lost his life to drugs.

"I cannot underestimate how important parental support is.''

Local parent Barbara Robinson mourns the loss of her son, Tony, who died of alcohol and prescription drugs abuse.

"As parents we felt so alone, like an island,'' she said.

As well as the website: and the telephone hotline 0808 800 2222, there will be parenting courses and information leaflets. The scheme will be launched in Middlesbrough on Monday.