720,000 children call for help as crisis hits home

Cormac Murphy

AN 8pc rise in vulnerable children calling an emergency helpline is directly linked to the recession, the ISPCC has said.

The figures show 722,849 calls to the group were made by vulnerable children so far this year. The ISPCC (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) revealed this represented an increase of 56,000 -- or 8.39pc -- in just one year.

The figure for the same period last year was 666,849.

The ISPCC issued the data as it revealed that, last Christmas, 40pc of children's calls went unanswered due to a severe lack of resources.

Launching its Christmas appeal, it said a lack of funds meant two-fifths of the calls could not be attended to on Christmas Day.

"What's more, 2010 has seen a huge increase in demand for all of the ISPCC's services to children with an alarming increase in abuse and welfare cases," the charity added.

"On Christmas Day last year, over 900 vulnerable children engaged with the ISPCC, many seeking protection against abuse and violence."

ISPCC chief Ashley Balbirnie said all of its services "have seen a huge increase in demand as the current state of the economy impacts on children and their families".


The group confirmed the rise was directly linked to growing recession-related family incidents.

All kinds of abuse (13pc) and everyday family disagreements (63pc) now account for almost three out of every four calls.

A total of 484,218 calls from children in danger have been answered by the service since the start of this year. The figure is more than double the 203,889 contacts in 2005. The average number of weekly calls so far this year stands at 10,086.