Rise in Childline counselling sessions to disabled young people 8,253 counselling sessions delivered in 2016/17

Childline delivered 8,253 counselling sessions last year to young people who either told or were identified by counsellors as d/Deaf, disabled, having special educational needs or a health condition.

The number of Childline counselling sessions given to disabled young people* rose by 13% in 2016/17, an average of 22 counselling sessions a day.

In 6% of these counselling sessions, young people talked about abuse or neglect, but the number of disabled young people who could be facing abuse and neglect could be even higher.

Research has shown that disabled young people are 3 times more likely to be abused or neglected than non-disabled young people. They are also less likely to receive the protection and support they need when they have been abused.


John Cameron, NSPCC Head of Helplines

John Cameron, NSPCC Head of Helplines, said: “It’s extremely concerning to see so many disabled children and teenagers contacting Childline but this could be only the tip of the iceberg.

“We know that disabled young people are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect and we need to ensure that support and advice is available to all those who could find themselves in difficult or dangerous situations.

“Childline counsellors will continue to support as many disabled young people as possible to ensure that they have the ability to live without fear of prejudice.”

Reasons for getting in touch

In 2016/17, disabled young people also sought help for a wide variety of other concerns, including:

  • mental and emotional health
  • issues relating to their own disability
  • educational need or health condition
  • bullying and cyberbullying
  • family relationships and friendship issues
  • being scared about their future/achieving their ambitions.

Disabilities or conditions most commonly recorded by Childline included autism, learning difficulties, physical disabilities or mobility issues and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD).

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*The term ‘disabled young people’ is used as a generic term throughout. It covers young people with a range of very different conditions and identities, some of whom may not identify as being disabled.

Examples include: young people who are d/Deaf, are on the autistic spectrum, have a condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or who have a long-term illness.

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