Children’s charity Childline said it answered more than 1,000 calls, texts, and online contacts from children and young people on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and St. Stephen’s Day.

That compared with 723 contacts at the same time last year, a significant rise of 277. 

Family conflict, mental health, and self-harm were among the issues spoken about by children who sought support. 

John Church, the chief executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), which runs Childline, said many children felt upset and isolated over Christmas. 

He told a number of media sources on Monday, “While Christmas is often a time of great joy for children and young people, we know from those who turn to Childline that the magic of the season does not reach every child. 

“This year, many children did not wake up to the kind of Christmas Day they had dreamed of. Tensions may have come to the surface in their homes, they may have struggled with challenges to their mental and emotional health, or there may have been an empty place at their table due to bereavement. 

“Many turned to Childline to tell us how they felt anxious, upset and isolated.” 
Church said more than 100 volunteers across Ireland gave their time across the Christmas period to help ensure no child or young person had to face their challenges alone. 

He added, “No matter what is on the mind of a child or young person on any day or night of the year, Childline is here to listen to them, believe them, support and empower them. 

“This is made possible with thanks to the exceptional dedication of our Childline volunteers. We are hugely grateful to them for their generosity in giving up their time at Christmas to help make sure every child and young person has somewhere they can turn.” 

The 24-hour active listening service is one of a number of Childline services provided free, non-judgmental, and non-directive by the ISPCC. 

*This column first appeared in the December 29 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.