Thousands of children disclose abuse they face for the first time to Childline

December and January are common months for children to confide in Childline about abuse for the first time.
December and January are common months for children to confide in Childline about abuse for the first time.

In the last year the counselling service, run by the NSPCC, has seen a 20% increase in the number of children under 11 being counselled for sexual abuse, when compared to the year before as well as 45% more boys revealing online sexual abuse.

This Christmas, as school holidays are fast approaching, the charity is gearing up to keep its 13 Childline bases open all day and night over the festive period, so they can be there whenever a child chooses to disclose.

This follows news that the festive period has become a common time for children to confide in Childline about abuse for the first time with a fifth of children revealing abuse for the first time taking place during December 2021 and January 2022.

Amber (not her real name) was sexually abused by a family member when she was nine-years old and has been working with the NSPCC to raise awareness of child abuse and the importance of speaking out after calling herself and realising she needed someone to help her.

She said: “Christmas was just another day to me, and I resented it. It’s a time usually considered for family and celebration. But for me, it felt like a very dark and lonely place, and ultimately, it meant having to spend time with my abuser.

“I couldn’t find the words to tell my mum. But Childline finally made me feel like someone understood. When you disclose, the one big fear is that no-one will believe you. But the counsellors I spoke to were so empathetic, helpful, and kind.

“They knew I was telling the truth. And they gave me that bravery, that reassurance that people would believe me, and that I was doing the right thing by speaking out.”

In their new TV advert, the NSPCC highlights that on average, two children a minute contact Childline showing that for many children, Christmas can be the worst time of year.

The advert is based on real calls from children and shows three seemingly ordinary family scenes at Christmas before revealing what is really going on for the children, with stories of loss, domestic abuse, and sexual abuse.

Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder of Childline said: “I truly believe Childline is the fourth emergency service for children. We are there when children disclose abuse, we are there when they are feeling suicidal, we are there 24/7 when others aren’t.

“It’s vital no call goes unanswered, particularly over Christmas when most services close leaving those children who are struggling isolated and scared.

“It is essential that Childline is here as a vital lifeline for those children and that they can get the help they need and deserve even on Christmas day.”

Alongside the advert, the NSPCC is appealing for donations ahead of the festive season to help support children and keep them safe.

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