Belfast Telegraph

38% increase in Childline contacts

Almost one child a minute called, texted or emailed Childline for support on Christmas Day.

The ISPCC said 1,384 youngsters looked for help - a 38% rise from last Christmas - with many experiencing family difficulties and loneliness.

Margie Roe, national Childline manager, said for most children Christmas is a time to have fun and spend time with family, but for many others it can be a time of fear, stress and trauma with alcohol abuse having a huge negative impact.

"At this time of year Childline is always concerned about the children whose ideal Christmas is far from the reality that they experience," she said.

"For some of the children that we speak to every Christmas, what they want and need is to be happy, to be loved, to feel special and to have a Christmas worth remembering.

"Children contacted Childline on Christmas Day for a variety of reasons but the majority of calls this year were from children who were experiencing family difficulties and loneliness. We also had children who had used the service this year contacting us to let us know that they were doing okay and to say thanks."

A total of 85 volunteers across the country listened and offered help to youngsters throughout the day.

The ISPCC said its Christmas campaign that "Every child has the right to sleep in peace this Christmas" was not fulfilled for all youngsters this year. It revealed 2011 was another year of extreme financial pressure and hardship for families.

Many young people have talked to Childline this year about the issue, the associated stress of financial difficulties and the impact this stress can have on family relationships.

"Children are very aware of the difficulties and pressures their parents face each day," it added.

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From Belfast Telegraph