Childline Receives Thousands Of Child Abuse Calls

Thousands of children reveal child abuse for first time to Childline

Thousands of children reveal child abuse for first time to Childline

  • December and January are common months for children to confide in Childline about abuse for the first time.
  • Childline, called the ‘fourth emergency service for children’ by its founder, stays open 24/7 all year, even Christmas Day.
  • Childline Charity relies on volunteers and public donations as two children a minute contact the service.

Over the past year Childline has delivered 15,515 counselling sessions across the UK where children have spoken about the abuse they have suffered or are experiencing.

In 2,267 of those counselling sessions children revealed abuse for the first time.

And of these, a fifth of disclosures took place during December 2021 and January 2022, with the youngest child just nine years old.

Last year in Northern Ireland (2021-22), the PSNI recorded 2,274 sexual offences* (56% of all sexual offences) committed against under 18s – a rise of 17% on 2020-21.

As the Christmas school holidays are fast approaching the charity is gearing up to keep its 13 Childline bases including Northern Ireland open 24/7 over the festive period, so they can be there whenever a child chooses to disclose.

This includes the charity’s bases in Belfast and Foyle, with at least one of the two bases open each day of the festive period including on Christmas Eve, Christmas day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Childline is there to support every child every day from abuse. (Photo courtesy of NSPCC).

When children talk about the sexual, emotional, physical or domestic abuse affecting them for the first time with Childline counsellors, often the same emotions and feelings are described. These include shame, being scared, or worried they were the ones that had done something wrong. Others shared they didn’t know how to tell adults in their life. 

In the last year, the counselling service run by the NSPCC, has also seen:

  • A 20% increase in the number of children under 11 being counselled for sexual abuse, when compared to the year before.
  • More boys revealing online sexual abuse – 45% more than the year before.

Last December a child aged 13 from Northern Ireland told a Childline counsellor:

“My mum’s constantly shouting at me and criticising everything I do. I need to choose between spending Christmas with her or my dad, and I don’t know what to do.

If I do what I want and spend the holidays with my dad, she’ll blame me for leaving her alone and may never forgive me.

But if I stay with her, I know we’ll be arguing all the time and she’ll make me feel miserable. It’s a burden I wish I didn’t have to carry.”

The NSPCC is releasing its latest Childline data about abuse as it launches its ‘Be here for children’ Christmas appeal, which shows why it is vitally important Childline stays open over the festive period, as statutory services close down.

Last year in Northern Ireland (2021-22), the PSNI recorded 2,274 sexual offences* (56% of all sexual offences) committed against under 18s – a rise of 17% on 2020-21.

The charity is also growing increasingly concerned to see the number of children needing support, in particular for abuse and neglect, when the system is struggling to cope, and the cost-of-living crisis will likely leave more families needing help this Winter.  

It warns that the lack of a Northern Ireland Executive is compounding the issue and is calling for political parties to get back to the table to make child protection a priority in 2023.

In its new TV advert, the NSPCC highlights that on average, two children a minute contact Childline. For these children, Christmas can be the worst time of year.

The advert is based on real calls from children. Through three seemingly ordinary family scenes at Christmas we see what’s really going on for the children, with stories of loss, domestic abuse, and sexual abuse.

Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder of Childline said: “I truly believe Childline is the fourth emergency service for children. We are there when children disclose abuse, we are there when they are feeling suicidal, we are there 24/7 when others aren’t.

“Our service relies heavily on volunteers and donations to be here for children, and like everyone else we are starting to feel the effects of the cost of living.

“Every minute, two children will contact us, and its vital no call goes unanswered, particularly over Christmas when most services close leaving those children who are struggling isolated and scared.”

“It is essential that Childline is here as a vital lifeline for those children and that they can get the help they need and deserve even on Christmas day.”

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “The Christmas holidays can be one of the most difficult times of the year for children, and they often need somewhere to go to confide.

“It is vitally important they know that Childline is here for them throughout the holidays to provide free and confidential help and advice.

“It is crucial that everyone recognises they have a part to play when it comes to keeping children safe from abuse, including government.

“2022 has been a year where the importance of child protection has come to the forefront, 2023 needs to be the year of meaningful change.”

Help us be here for all children this Christmas by visiting the NSPCC website to donate​. Together, we can keep children safe

The Childline service is here for every children every day, even on Christmas Day.

Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

When a child needs help, Childline can be a lifeline.

When a child feels like they have nowhere else to turn to, it’s vital that the NSPCC is here, ready to listen and support children across the UK.