Thousands of abused children left to fend for themselves

The ChildLine annual review reveals that after suffering abuse, many children are unable to access the support services they need

Girl on the phone feeling sadEvery 6 minutes a child is counselled by ChildLine about mental health-related concerns. The 2014/15 ChildLine annual review, ‘Always There When I Need You, also highlights that 1 in 10 contacts is about abuse.

There were 85,000 counselling sessions in which young people spoke about mental health-related issues to our free ChildLine service. Counsellors helped children and young people suffering from unhappiness, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem and diagnosed mental health disorders like bipolar. Of these counselling sessions, over 5000 involved children who also sought help for abuse.

Tragically, many young people felt they had been left to deal with these problems alone without support services. The number of children unable to get the vital help they need has more than doubled in the last year.

4 out of 5 concerns about accessing support services related to mental health and wellbeing. Many young people experienced lengthy waiting times, lack of out-of-hours support, service closures and an absence of information. It often left them feeling anxious, frightened and overwhelmed.

One 16 year old said:
“I just feel everything has got too much and I have plans of how I am going to end my own life. I feel so let down by all services. I trusted them but now I don’t feel I can rely on them or tell them how I’m feeling anymore.”

"Many of today’s children feel utterly miserable – for some, they feel that life is not worth living. We need more help and support for young people. We must give them a chance to tell us what is in their hearts."
Esther Rantzen / Founder of ChildLine

There were over 10,000 counselling sessions with children and young people who talked to Childline in 2017/18 about sexual abuse

Explanation: There were 10,878 Childline counselling sessions with children and young people about sexual abuse in 2017/18.

Sexual abuse includes where the young person has been persuaded/forced by an adult or older person to take part in sexual activities, or encouraged to behave in a sexually inappropriate way. It includes online sexual abuse such as exposure to sexually explicit images, grooming and sexting.

See also Indicator 7 in How safe are our children? 2018.

View the trend graph for Counselling sessions with abuse as the primary concern (PNG).

290,000 counselling sessions supported by nearly 1,400 dedicated trained volunteers

Explanation: Childline carried out almost 290,000 in-depth counselling sessions with children and young people, some of whom were going through the toughest times of their lives. Nearly 1,400 dedicated trained volunteers were there to support them.

During 2014/15, ChildLine carried out a total of 286,812 counselling sessions. The 3 most common concerns were:

    • family relationships
    • low self-esteem/unhappiness
    • abuse.

Mental health-related concerns accounted for nearly a third of all contacts. When young people spoke to ChildLine about mental health, there was often another issue behind it. One volunteer ChildLine counsellor said:
“Some have been abused, or are trying to cope with really difficult situations, and their mental health issue is a manifestation of that.”

The number of counselling sessions about low self-esteem rose by 9% to 35,244. ‘Always there when I need you’ also reveals that the number of young people troubled by anxiety nearly trebled.

"Thousands of vulnerable children – many of whom have been abused – are silently coping with serious issues that leave them racked with worry when instead they should be getting help to rebuild their childhoods. We risk failing a generation of children if we leave them without the vital support they need to recover.”"
Peter Wanless / NSPCC Chief Executive

Mental health and suicidal thoughts in children

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