800 Childline calls go unanswered


More than 800 phone calls from youngsters in desperate need of support went unheard every day last year, a children’s charity has revealed.

The ISPCC’s Childline helpline received about 2,360 calls and messages a day in 2011, but more than a third (38 per cent) of calls went unanswered.

The charity claimed poor funding was the biggest barrier to manning the phones and taking every call.

ISPCC chief executive Ashley Balbirnie said emotional abuse in particular has become one of the organisation’s biggest concerns.

“Emotional abuse undermines confidence and self-worth, and can have a detrimental impact on a child,” said Mr Balbirnie.

“We know that words can leave deep scars that can have a lasting negative impact on children’s self-esteem.”

Childline received 839,258 calls in 2011, as well as 23,536 texts, emails and one-to-one web chats.

Its annual statistics report also found that 14 per cent of the total calls received - 54,000 - were from children suffering some form of emotional abuse.

The charity said the figures were evidence that child abuse and neglect are just as prevalent in Irish society as ever, with emotional abuse arising in anything from violence within the family to peer relationships.

Elsewhere, the charity launched a new campaign, Children believe what they are told, which aims to highlight the impact abusive language can have on youngsters.

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