More than 700 children contact Childline on Christmas Day
Children reported issues with domestic violence, alcohol and family tensions
Childline has seen a significant surge in contacts during periods of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. Photograph: iStock
More than 700 children contacted the support service Childline on Christmas Day, a small decrease on the same day last year.
723 children contacted the 24-hour support line over Christmas Day and the early hours of St Stephen’s Day.
The phone line, operated by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), was run by 35 volunteers on Christmas Day.
Some of the issues the listening service reported children disclosing included family tensions, mental health difficulties, feelings of isolation, domestic violence, and the impact of family members consuming excessive alcohol.
Childline answered 615 calls and online messages from children on December 25th, and 105 contacts between midnight and 6am on St Stephen’s Day.
Last year the charity responded to 793 calls, texts and online messages from young people on Christmas Day, and 1,267 contacts on the same day in 2018.
Overall this year the support line has seen a significant surge in contacts during periods of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, with demand up across all services.
John Church, ISPCC chief executive, said “never before has a year presented so many challenges to so many children.”
“They have borne the brunt of huge upheaval, with extended school closures, separation from their grandparents and other loved ones and more. In many cases, there has been anxiety at every turn – and they have picked up on this,” he said.
Mr Church said it was clear from the number of children contacting the charity’s support service on Friday that the magic of the Christmas season “does not reach every child”.
“For some, what ought to have been the most joyful of times can be the most frightening. Tensions are heightened and children were left feeling lonely, upset and afraid,” he said.
The organisation was “hugely grateful” to the volunteers who gave up their time to help run the service on Christmas Day, he said.
“It was particularly striking yesterday for our service to hear from children and young people contacting us to thank us for having been there for them this year when they may have felt as though there was nowhere else they could turn,” he said.