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'Isolated at home with their tormentor': Childline experiences increase in calls since closure of schools

The ISPCC said home is not a happy place for all children and they do not have their regular support network in schools anymore.

Image: Shutterstock

CHILDLINE HAS EXPERIENCED an increase in demand for its services over the last week since schools and childcare facilities were forced to close due to the coronavirus outbreak in Ireland.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) said it has recorded an increase in users of the Childline website of 26% in the week of 12 March (the day the schools closed) to 19 March, compared with the week previous.

In the week ending 15 March, there was an increase in contacts across all platforms compared to the previous week:

  • 19.8% increase in text contacts
  • 8.9% increase in phone engagements
  • 4.6% increase in online engagements

The topics children and young people spoke about with volunteers most frequently in the week ending 15 March were:

  • Current events
  • Anxiety/worry
  • Health conditions
  • Family relationships

In a statement today, ISPCC chief executive John Church appealed to the public to continue to support the charity during this difficult period for many children:

“Imagine being a child at home right now. Except their home is not a happy place. Tension fills the air.

They wake in dread at what each new day might bring. They are isolated from their regular support network and at home with their tormentor. Childline is a lifeline.

He said vital fundraising activities on which Childline depends have been put on hold.

“But child abuse does not stop in a pandemic. Nor does neglect,” he said. 

Nor do mental health difficulties or self-harm. In many cases, children and young people across the country are experiencing these issues more acutely now than ever before. Many of those who contact Childline tell us they feel as though they have nowhere else to turn. They need our help.

“Childline will continue to be there for them 24 hours a day, every day – but only if we receive public support at this critical time. We rely on donations for 90 per cent of our fundingm” Church said. 

He appealed to the public to help share a sense of hope with the children who call Childline, to “let them know that someone cares”. 

Donations to the ISPCC can be made here

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