Belfast Telegraph

Christmas calls to Childline up 11%

Childline received 1,005 calls, texts and emails from children and young people on Christmas Day.

The support body said the figure marks an 11% increase on last year. It said 2010 had been a year of extreme financial pressure and hardship for families.

Margie Roe, Childline Manager, said: "Children contacted Childline on Christmas Day for a variety of reasons but the majority of calls this year were from children who were experiencing difficulties such as loneliness, isolation, depression and family difficulties.

"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."

Childline, made up of volunteers and staff, said a significant theme throughout 2010 had been the associated stress of financial difficulties and the impact that this stress can have on family relationships.

This year saw the launch of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's report; "If They're Getting Loaded, Why Can't I?", dealing with parents and alcohol.

It found one in 10 young people in Ireland feel their life is significantly affected by their parents' alcohol use.

Caroline O'Sullivan, ISPCC director of services, said: "At this time of year Childline is always concerned about the children whose ideal Christmas is far from the reality that they experience.

"Alcohol can have such a profound impact on children in the home and can mean the difference between feeling safe and loved in the home and feeling scared, isolated and embarrassed.

"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."

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