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When Christmas means abuse, Childline is a lifeline 

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Childline reveals that over the last year the service has delivered 14,080 counselling sessions to children and young people about sexual, physical, domestic, emotional abuse and neglect– an average of 38 children a day.

The service, which is run by the NSPCC, is also highlighting that of those counselling sessions, 31% (4,321) had a child say that they had not told anyone before or that Childline was the first place where they had spoken about their abuse.

The NSPCC is releasing these figures as it launches its Christmas appeal.

Although Christmas comes with huge expectations of happiness, love and fun – for the more than half a million children experiencing abuse a year, it can also be an incredibly lonely and frightening time. 

With schools closing their doors and children having reduced contact with wider support networks over the festive season, the charity knows that there will be many vulnerable children at home facing increased risks.

For those children and young people for whom Christmas means abuse, Childline is a lifeline. 

19.08.23 NSPCC LFECA 0324 | When Christmas means abuse, Childline is a lifeline 

On December 21 and 22 landmarks across the country will be lighting up NSPCC Green to show support for the charity’s appeal. In the South West landmarks lighting up include St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall; Smeaton’s Tower in Plymouth; the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon; and Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol.

Last year during the 12-day Christmas period between 24 December 2022 and 4 January 2023, counsellors delivered 400 counselling sessions on abuse and neglect.

December last year was also the second highest month in the year for children reaching out for support on emotional abuse (247).

A teenager who contacted the service over Christmas last year said: “There won’t be anything special for Christmas in my house. My parents aren’t horrible people, but they don’t do anything nice or show any emotion or care about my needs. They’ve taken away my Christmas gift money from my relatives. I know that there won’t be any presents to open on Christmas Day.” 

In its new TV advert, the NSPCC highlights that on average a child will call Childline every 45 seconds and that for these children, Christmas can be the worst time of year. 

The ad is inspired by real calls from children to the NSPCC’s Childline service, which is open for children every day, including Christmas day. 

Andrew Freeman, NSPCC Assistant Director for the South West and Channel Islands, said: “Christmas should be a time of happiness and fun for all children, but at Childline we know that sadly for many in the South West, it is a time full of fear, isolation and increased risks.

“For lots of children, Childline is the only place they can turn to for help when they are trapped behind closed doors feeling scared and alone.

“In the run up to this festive season, it is essential that the service continues to be here as a lifeline for those children who are in desperate need of support from our trained counsellors and those in immediate danger.” 

To enable the charity to be there for all children this Christmas, visit the NSPCC website to donate. Just £4 could help a counsellor answer a call this festive season.  

The Childline service is here for children every day, even on Christmas Day. Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When a child needs help and Christmas means abuse, Childline is a lifeline and it is vital that our counsellors are here and ready to listen and support children across the UK. 

Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or childline.org.uk 

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