50,000 calls to Childline over Christmas, 19 per cent up on last year

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ChildLine received almost 50,000 cries for help from children and young people in the twelve days from Christmas Eve to January 4, 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.

ChildLine counsellors at its London base received 1819 contacts during the 12 day holiday period.

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.

ChildLine president Esther Rantzen, 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 in our 25th anniversary year that 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 female teenage caller to ChildLine in London said: “My dad has a go at me all the time. Christmas is always rubbish, things are always rubbish - it happens all the time. He makes me do stuff I don’t want to. Things have been happening since I was little, no-one knows. I can’t wait to go back to school.”