UK & World News

  • 8 January 2014, 4:28

Suicide And Bullying Calls To Child Helpline Rise

Calls about cyberbullying, suicidal thoughts and self harm have surged in the last year, according to a children's counselling service.

ChildLine reported an 87% rise in contacts about online bullying in 2012/13 compared to the previous year and a 41% increase in contacts about self-harm.

The 24-hour service allows children 18 or under get in touch by phone, online chat and e-mail, and its founder, Esther Rantzen, said the latest report was a "real wake up call".

"It's so important that we support children to talk about issues and look out for signs that they're not able to cope.

"No matter how hard pressed we are, we must commit to giving children time and space to talk about their lives."

ChildLine, which conducted nearly 300,000 counselling sessions in the last year, said the 24-hour nature of online bullying meant there was "no escape" for young people.

More than 1,400 young people told the service they were experiencing racist bullying in 2012/13, up 69% on the previous year.

A common theme was for young people to be called a "terrorist" or a "bomber" and to be told to "go back to where they came from", ChildLine said.

Self-harm was mentioned in almost 47,000 counselling sessions, up 41% year-on-year, while suicide was mentioned in 4,500 contacts from children aged between 12 and 15 alone.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of children's charity NSPCC, which provides the service, said: "The issues facing children today are very different from those that faced us as children.

"Stranger danger, for example, rarely comes up in contacts to ChildLine but depression, self-harm, online bullying and even suicide contacts are increasing exponentially."

Family relationships remain the main reason children and young people contact ChildLine, with family problems mentioned in more than 86,000 counselling sessions in 2012/13.

:: Childline is a free and confidential service available online at www.childline.org.uk or by calling 0800 1111.

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