Sunday 26 March 2017

Childline concerned over number of children at risk of suicide

Stock image
Stock image

Sam Griffin

MORE than 1,000 contacts in relation to suicide were received by the country’s leading children’s charity last year.

The ISPCC says it is worried by the trend and called on the government to do more to tackle online bullying and abuse of children online at the launch of its annual report in Dublin today.

The society’s child helpline service ‘Childline’ received some 650,000 calls in 2014 and answered 462,000 of these.

It also engaged in 11,550 text conversations and responded to a total of 480,000 contacts from children in need of help support and advice.

The charity said it is particularly concerned about the “scale and complexity of mental health issues for children” with 20,000 contacts directly related to pyscho-social and mental health issues.

Of the 1,000 contacts from children in the area of suicide, 303 of these were made by children “at high risk of suicide”.

The charity also said that while contacts relating to bullying declined, it remains a “major issue of concern for children with cyber bullying the key issue”.

Children’s Minister James Reilly said cyber bullying has come to the fore in recent years.

“A number of very sad deaths of young people by suicide have been linked in the media and in popular consciousness with the people involved having been subjected to cyberbullying,” he said as he delivered the inaugural ISPCC annual lecture.

He added: “It has also been remarked that the perceived permanence of posts and images on the internet makes the bullying even worse fro those subjected to it.”

Checking your child’s phone and internet history can alert a parent early on to potential cyber-bullying
Checking your child’s phone and internet history can alert a parent early on to potential cyber-bullying

ISCPP chief executive Grainia Long said criminal behaviour online “doesn’t recognise borders, it doesn’t recognise legal jurisdictions”.

“It is well resourced, it is well planned and it deliberately targets those who are young and vulnerable,” she said, as she called on the government to ratify two UN conventions which are aimed at keeping children safe online.

She also said she expects “stronger demands to be made of internet service providers and other technology companies” to demonstrate what they are doing to keep children safe.

Any children who need support should freephone 1800 666666 or text the words ‘help’ ‘bully’or ‘talk’to 50101.

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