Childline: 30 years of listening to children Childline’s achievements since the service was launched in 1986
This report looks back at the first 30 years of Childline. It describes the night the service was launched and sets out some of the key dates in Childline's history. It looks in detail at how the experiences of children have changed from 1986 to 2016. It includes information on how Childline has worked to improve society for children, and real life examples of how the service has helped children through difficult times in their lives.
- Since Childline started 30 years ago, we have helped over 4 million children.
- In 1986, most children contacted us on a landline phone. Today when children call us by phone, they mostly call us on their mobiles.
- In 2009, Childline offered online support and counselling for the first time. In 2015/16 71% of counselling sessions took place online.
- In the 1980s children rarely talked to Childline about mental health. By 2015/16 a third of Childline counselling sessions related to mental health issues, suicidal feelings, self-harm, low self-esteem and unhappiness.
- When Childline was launched in 1986, sexual abuse was the most common form of abuse that children and young people were counselled about. This is still the case in 2015/16, with more than 10,000 Childline counselling sessions about sexual abuse.
- Bullying has been in the top 5 main concerns from 1989 until today.
|The story of Childline||11|
|Timeline: 1986 to 2016||15|
|Young people’s lives: 1986 to 2016||19|
|How young people contact Childline||19|
|Mental health and unhappiness||22|
|Childline: Changing society for children||27|
|Making a difference: “You listened when no one else did”||31|
|Looking to the future: 30 more years of listening to children||35|
"I didn't realise it was revolutionary at the time, I now know it was."
Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder of Childline
"Volunteering for Childline has been the most rewarding work that I have done in my entire life."
Colin, NSPCC Counsellor
"I would like to thank Childline sincerely for being the cog in my wheel that made it turn with ease at such a difficult time. As a child I did not know what to do, but because of your involvement I was able to have a happy and safe childhood."
Charlotte’s story, 1986
"I am so thankful to Childline. I was going through a lot at the time and had thought about killing myself many times. Calling Childline that day saved my life. Thank you so much."
Marissa’s story, 1998
"Online chatting with Childline has been amazing and I know that I can share any troubles I may have in the future with Childline. Thank you."
Kylie’s story, 2015
Please cite as: NSPCC (2016) Childline: 30 years of listening to children. London: NSPCC.
Childline annual review 2015-16: It turned out someone did care
What should I do? NSPCC helplines report about online safety
Childline posters and wallet cards
How safe are our children? 2016
Services for children, families and professionals
Child abuse and neglect
Keeping children safe
Signs, symptoms and effects of child abuse and neglect
Our Current Awareness Service for Practice, Policy And Research delivers free weekly email alerts to keep you up-to-date with all the latest safeguarding and child protection news.
Support our research
Research like this helps keep children safe from abuse – but we can’t do it without our generous supporters.
Follow us on Twitter and keep up-to-date with all the latest news in child protection.
We hold the UK's largest collection of child protection resources and the only UK database specialising in published material on child protection, child abuse and child neglect.
New in the Library
A free weekly email listing all of the new child protection publications added to our library collection.
Helping you keep children safe
Read our guide for professionals on what we do and the ways we can work with you to protect children and prevent abuse and neglect.
Impact and evidence hub
Find out how we evaluate and research the impact we’re making in protecting children, get tips and tools for researchers and access resources.
Get expert training and consultancy
Sharing knowledge to keep children safe
Read our guide to NSPCC Knowledge and Information Services to find out how we can help you with child protection queries, support your research, and help you learn and develop.