Coronavirus: Childline reports increase in calls over anxiety

Numbers contacting support line increased since closure of schools

The number of young people contacting Childline by phone increased by just under 9 per cent last week, and the number of children availing of Childline’s text support service increased by almost 20 per cent. File photograph: Getty Images

The number of young people contacting Childline by phone increased by just under 9 per cent last week, and the number of children availing of Childline’s text support service increased by almost 20 per cent. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Childline has reported an increase in calls and texts from children and young people expressing anxiety around the coronavirus and family relationships in recent weeks.

The seven-day a week text and phone line run by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) provides support to children and young people up to 18 years of age.

In the week the Government announced the closure of schools across the country and other major measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the service received a large increase in demand.

The number of young people contacting Childline by phone increased by just under 9 per cent last week, and the number of children availing of Childline’s text support service increased by almost 20 per cent.

The number of people visiting the Childline website in the week since schools closed has increased by 26 per cent, compared to the previous week.

An ISPCC spokeswoman said the main topics children and young people were contacting Childline to discuss were current events such as the coronavirus, family relationships, and health conditions. Large numbers contacting the service also wanted to discuss feelings of anxiety and worry, she said.

“We expect this increase in contacts to continue, as children reach out to the service. Many tell us they feel it is the only place they have to turn,” the spokeswoman said.

“We are appealing for public support at this time, as many of our fundraising activities have had to be curtailed,” she said. People can donate to the ISPCC and Childline by visiting ispcc.ie/donate-now.

Children’s rights organisations, child law experts and academics have expressed fears school closures may leave children at risk of abuse or neglect in their homes more isolated, at a time of intense stress in their domestic environment.

Bernard Gloster, chief executive of Tusla, the child and family agency, has said “all referrals or concerns about children are being screened and assessed in line with normal practice and that where a child is at immediate risk, they receive an immediate response.”