The Chief Executive Officer of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless, has today called for the voices of vulnerable children to be heard in a bid to tackle new emerging problems for young people.
The charity, ChildLine, regularly publishes reports based on issues that children and young people are contacting them about. Their recent report, Can I Tell You Something?, has revealed a new concerning trend for teenagers to contact the service about issues of self-harm, bullying and suicide.
ChildLine reports a worrying rise in contacts about self-harm. For example, in 2011-12, 470 girls aged 12 contacted them about self-harming, but this number rocketed to 700 in 2012-13. The charity states that instances of self-harm are now affecting children at a younger age. Self-harm was mentioned in almost 47,000 counselling sessions, a disturbing 41 per cent year-on-year increase.
Contacts where young people felt suicidal increased by 33 per cent, with over 4,500 contacts from children aged between the ages of 12 and 15 alone, regarding suicide.
Family relationships have always been, and still are, a primary reason that children and young people contact ChildLine and this year was no different. Family problems were mentioned in over 86,000 counselling sessions.
Esther Rantzen, Founder of ChildLine, said: ‘This Report is a real wake-up call. Far too many of the nation's children seem to be struggling and in despair. It's so important that we support children to talk about issues and look out for signs that they're not able to cope.
‘No matter how hard pressed we are, we must commit to giving children time and space to talk about their lives.'
Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC added: ‘The issues facing children today are very different from those that faced us as children. Stranger danger, for example, rarely comes up in contacts to ChildLine but depression, self-harm, online bullying and even suicide contacts are increasing exponentially.'