Childline received more than 1,000 calls for help on Christmas Day, with some children citing domestic violence and alcohol abuse as problems in their home.
Sixty-one volunteers responded to 1,040 contacts which came in via the phone, web chat and a live text service.
The ISPCC-run (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) helpline also fielded calls from children experiencing mental health difficulties.
“Some children who contacted Childline on Christmas Day are experiencing loneliness, loss and domestic violence over this festive period which makes what should be a happy time very difficult for them but thanks to our dedicated volunteers, Childline is here to listen and support them,” said ISPCC chief executive Grainia Long.
While Christmas Day was busy for Childline, the helpline’s manager said other days over the holidays can be just as busy, if not busier.
“It gets busier, often today [St Stephen’s Day] is busier and there can be between 1,000 and 1,200 calls on average a day over the next few days,” Childline national manager Margie Roe told the Irish Examiner.
She also explained the wide range of topics that callers phoned with on Christmas Day.
“Some callers rang to thank us for being there throughout the year, some rang to tell us what presents they got and then there was the more serious calls such as teenagers experiencing mental health issues or children witnessing domestic violence or alcohol abuse.
“Some might also ring because they’ve have had a recent family break-up or bereavement,” explained Ms Roe.
For calls that are not of a crisis nature, the national helpline manager explained that some children will phone when they feel they cannot approach a parent.
However, Ms Roe stressed these types of calls are not necessarily a “reflection” on a parent.
“They might also phone if they’re not comfortable to talk to their parents about it yet, if it’s a boyfriend or a girlfriend thing or something to do with their sexuality.
“Or they might have a problem that they don’t feel is a problem and they’ll phone us to do a dummy run.
“We help them validate their feelings and they feel more confident to go to a trusted adult then. We’re non-directive, we don’t give advice but we do tell them they have a right to be safe and we ask questions like ‘who do you think you could talk to?’,”explained Ms Roe.
“Children tell us constantly they don’t want to worry their parents, they know their parents and their coping skills.
“A child phoning Childline is not necessarily a reflection on a parent,” she added.
By text: Text the word: ‘talk’ to 50101 (service available from 10am to 4am) Live online chat: Available from 10am to 4am, live chat on Childline.ie Via the web: You will find various items of support and advice for children and parents on ispcc.ie and childline.ie
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