The US election and the possibility of war are seriously affecting our children, Childline warns
Third Force News, by Paul Cardwell
The number of young people calling Childline because they are suffering from anxiety has increased rapidly over the past year.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), which runs the young people’s help service, has revealed requests went up by 35% with children as young as eight wanting to talk about everything from family problems to their fears over world affairs such as the EU referendum, the US election and troubles in the Middle East.
Overall the number of people counselled for anxiety by the service in the UK increased from 8,642 in 2014/15 to 11,706 last year.
At its Glasgow base, counsellors delivered 1,843 sessions, up from 1,337. In Aberdeen, sessions increased from 429 to 507.
We need to ensure our children are reassured rather than left overwhelmed and frightened
Worryingly, the problem appears to be getting worse as the service marks its 30th anniversary; during the last six months Childline dealt with around 6,500 contacts where anxiety was cited as the main issue – an equivalent of 36 a day.
Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland, said: “The world can be a worrying place but we need to ensure our children are reassured rather than left overwhelmed and frightened.
“It’s only natural for children and young people to feel worried sometimes, but when they are plagued by constant fears that are resulting in panic attacks and making them not want to leave the house then they need support.
“One of the most important ways to help those that are struggling is to make sure that they know they always have someone to talk to and that they never have to suffer alone, which is why Childline is as important now to children and young people as when it first launched back in 1986.”
In response the NSPCC created a new webpage on the Childline website in September – Worries about the World – which has already received almost 5,000 visits.
A teenage girl told counsellors: “Things I see on the news are worrying me; things like the EU referendum and the US election, it makes me worry about my future and how things are going to change.
“I hate the idea of going to war and I don’t understand how things can be resolved this way, but it seems like that’s all that’s happening all over the world right now.”
Another, a young boy, said: “People have talked about a world war starting and I get really scared thinking about this. It feels like nowhere is safe after seeing stuff on the news.”
Just last week the NSPCC said it is looking to recruit more volunteers for its Glasgow Childline base. The centre currently has 201 volunteers but last year, staff carried out 33,753 counselling sessions with children and young people from all over the UK.
During a visit to Glasgow, Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen spoke about the “warmth and compassion” of the volunteers there.
She added: “I have seen the difference Childline makes after speaking to many young adults who have used the service when they were children.
“The ways children contact us has changed dramatically since 1986 but the help our counsellors provide has not. It gives children hope and literally transforms lives.”