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Over 700 children contacted Childline on Christmas

Children who contacted the helpline raised issues such as mental health difficulties, family tensions, and isolation.

Image: Shutterstock/Mama Belle and the kids

OVER 700 CHILDREN and young people made contact with Childline to seek support on Christmas Day and into the night this year.

Volunteers at Childline answered 723 calls, online contacts and texts from children on Christmas – 615 on 25 December, and a further 108 between midnight and 6am this morning.

Children who contacted the helpline raised issues such as mental health difficulties, family tensions, and isolation. 

Domestic violence and the effect of excessive alcohol were also raised by children who reached out.

The number is a slight decrease on last year, when Childline answered 793 calls, online contacts and texts from children, and the year before, when it recorded 1,267 contacts.

Chief executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) John Church said that many children felt upset or afraid over Christmas.

“While many homes fill with love and warmth on Christmas Day, we know from the children who contacted Childline yesterday that the magic of the season does not reach every child,” Church said.

“For some, what ought to have been the most joyful of times can be the most frightening. Tensions are heightened and children were left feeling lonely, upset and afraid,” he said.

Church said that “never before has a year presented so many challenges to so many children”. 

They have borne the brunt of huge upheaval, with extended school closures, separation from their grandparents and other loved ones and more. In many cases, there has been anxiety at every turn – and they have picked up on this.

“It was particularly striking yesterday for our service to hear from children and young people contacting us to thank us for having been there for them this year when they may have felt as though there was nowhere else they could turn,” he said.

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35 volunteers operated the 24-hour active listening service on Christmas.

Earlier this year, Childline reported 70,000 contacts from children between March and June, and double the number of children used the Childline website compared to the same period in 2019.

Among the most common issues raised were domestic abuse, self-harm, suicide and Covid-19 anxiety.

Childline is available to children and young people up to the age of 18. It can be contacted by calling 1800 66 66 66, by texting to 50101, or on Childline.ie.

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