Childline receives 38 calls a day from abused, neglected children and hundreds over Christmas period

400 calls were made to Childline between December 24 and January 4 last year (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
400 calls were made to Childline between December 24 and January 4 last year (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Childline has provided more than 14,000 counselling sessions to children suffering abuse and neglect over the past year, new figures reveal, as the charity gears up for a busy Christmas period.

In the 14,080 sessions - an average of 38 a day - sexual, physical, domestic, emotional abuse and neglect were discussed.

Children said they had not told anyone previously about the abuse in 31 per cent, or 4,321, of the calls.

The figures have been released by The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) which runs the phone counselling service, as it prepares for another busy Christmas season.

Last year Childline provided 400 counselling sessions between Christmas Eve and January 4.

December 2022 was also the second highest month in the year for children reaching out for support on emotional abuse.

For the more than half a million children experiencing abuse each year, Christmas can be a lonely and frightening time, NSPCC said.

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

A girl, aged 17, who contacted Childline over the Christmas period said: "My parents are drug addicts and don't buy us any food. If they do get us any, it's usually stolen from somewhere. They always ask me for my work money. I'd like advice on how to move out with my 12 year old brother.

"I feel like other people don’t get it when I try to talk to them. I've been thinking about contacting Social Services, but I thought I would ask Childline for advice first."

Childline director Shaun Friel said: "Although Christmas should be a time of happiness and fun for all children, at Childline we know that sadly this is not the case and that for many, 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."

Mental and emotional wellbeing was the top reason for children seeking help from Childline last year, the charity revealed in October, as it called for more mental health support in schools.

The NSPCC called on the Government to commit to funding and delivering mental health support teams across all schools and colleges in order to reach every pupil and student who needs help.

Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0800 1111. Visit the NSPCC website to donate.