Monday, 16 January 2012

Thousands turn to ChildLine over holiday season

ChildLine received almost 50,000 cries for help from children and young people in the twelve days from Christmas Eve to 4 January, a 19 per cent increase on last year’s figures.

Contacts by telephone, email or online chat to ChildLine totalled 48,751 over the festive period and figures show a staggering 50 per cent increase in the number of counselling interactions on Christmas Day compared with last year.

At the West Midlands base in Birmingham , ChildLine counsellors took part in 1,252 in-depth counselling sessions during the 12 day holiday period. Family relationship issues remained the primary concern of children and young people who contacted the base, accounting for 15 per cent of the total counselling interactions. Other reasons children called the base were depression (10 per cent), self harm (six per cent) and suicide (five per cent).

Nationally there was a dramatic increase in depression and mental health related counselling, which has increased by 103 per cent compared with Christmas 2010. Counselling regarding self-harm and suicide also increased by 62 per cent and 57 per cent respectively. This comes as more and more children are now contacting ChildLine online where many feel more able to talk about the most difficult issues. Visits to the ChildLine website increased by 57 per cent last year.

Nationally, in 71 cases over the festive season the situation was so serious that they had to be referred to other agencies such as the police and children’s services, a 109 per cent increase on last year. Around 59 per cent of these referrals were regarding suicide.

Esther Rantzen, President of ChildLine, said: "These figures clearly demonstrate how many distressed children depend on ChildLine, especially at times such as Christmas which is often particularly difficult for vulnerable young people.

"ChildLine is a vital life line for thousands of young people who desperately need support and advice on suicidal thoughts, self-harm, sexual abuse and mental illness. Our trained volunteer counsellors work tirelessly around the clock to ensure that the most vulnerable young people can get safe, trusted support on incredibly sensitive issues.

"It makes me especially proud that in our 25th anniversary year we can say, for the first time in ChildLine’s history, we can now answer almost every call the first time a child rings. But to continue this we need the support of the public and our volunteers. Money is always tight and every penny helps towards keeping this vital lifeline going."

One teenager who contacted the West Midlands ChildLine base said: “I talked to a guy yesterday online and he was very nice at first. Then we started talking on webcam and what he did was just disgusting. I haven't told anyone about it as it’s just too embarrassing - because I saw it. He asked me to send pictures of myself without my bra on. I don't want to report him because I just don't want him to get into any trouble - I would not be able to live with myself knowing that because of me somebody has been arrested or anything like that.”

ChildLine on 0800 1111 is the UK ’s free, 24-hour helpline for children in danger or distress. Trained volunteer counsellors provide comfort, advice and support. ChildLine is a service within the NSPCC. Calls to ChildLine are confidential, but if a child is in immediate danger the counsellor will let the caller know if they have to break confidentially and contact the emergency services to save the child’s life.

Childline 0800 1111

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