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27 Dec, 2016 16:31

Irish child abuse helpline flooded with Christmas Day calls

Irish child abuse helpline flooded with Christmas Day calls

An Irish child helpline received more than 1,000 calls on Christmas Day, with children reporting domestic violence and alcohol abuse in their homes.

The Childline service, run by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), was staffed by over 60 volunteers on Christmas Day. Children contacted the line through their free phone, web chat, and ‘live’ text services.  

“For too many children across Ireland, being home at Christmas, is not a place of safety, warmth and happiness. It’s a place of fear, loneliness, pain and neglect,” the society said in a statement.

A number of children also contacted the service to report experiencing family difficulties, loneliness, and mental health issues.

Children who experienced the loss of a family member or family break-up earlier in the year can have a particularly difficult time at Christmas, according to the children’s support group.

“Christmas should mean safety, warmth and happiness, but for many children that call our Childline service, this isn’t the reality,” Grainia Long of the ISPCC said.

“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.”

The problem is far from being just an Irish phenomenon: in the US, more than four children die from abuse every day, and the American Society for the Positive Care of Children says there were 3.6 million child abuse cases reported last year.