ChildLine, also known as child line, is a free 24-hour counselling service for children up to their 19th birthday in the United Kingdom provided by NSPCC. What is ChildLine? ChildLine deals with any personal, cyberbullying, abusive and sexual abuse which causes distress or concern. The common issues dealt with include:
ChildLine intends all calls be confidential. ChildLine counsellors take action whether the problem is big or small. They do not record calls but write case notes of calls. Supervisors may listen in to make sure that they are helping the best they can. Childline was formed at the suggestion of Esther Rantzen, TV producer, with the intent of detecting children at risk before they were irreparably damaged. The helpline was opened specifically for children in distress 24/7, and underwritten by benefactor Ian Skipper for the first three years of its existence.
ChildLine joined NSPCC and moneys were pledged to ensure that no child’s call go unanswered.
ChildLine has 12 counselling centres around the United Kingdom now, staffed largely by volunteers. The bases are across England and Scotland, supported by online centres at Leeds and Cardiff. As many as 4,500 children phone ChildLine every day, though only 2,500 of these callers can be answered due to egregious lack of funds. Since merging with NSPCC the service has nonetheless expanded, and currently depends on public donations.
ChildLine offers confidentiality to children unless their own or someone else’s life is in danger. This is the strength of the service, as it allows children “safety” in the promise that intervention will not take place without their consent. The majority of children suffer in silence because:
- They are told they won’t be believed
- Threatened into silence
- They fear intervention will shatter the little happiness they have
- They fear parents will be removed and siblings lost.
ChildLine offers a volunteer training programme and childline games for helpers who come from widely varied backgrounds and must be over 16. Many have worked for years for the ChildLine charity.
Calls to ChildLine do not appear on phone bills so adults in the home need not know they occurred. Despite mobile phone operators charging for freephone 0800 calls, these calls to ChildLine’s number are not charged by any UK mobile network. Calling is:
- Can be made 24/7
- About any problem whatsoever
- Possible to be for/about someone else
- If worried for a friend
ChildLine raises funds through:
- Direct donations through NSPCC
- Secial events such as X Factor ChildLine Ball
- Third-party fundraising organisations
Free Telephone number
The free phone Childline number, 0800 1111 was one of the first 0800 numbers issued in the United Kingdom and before BT allocated it to ChildLine, the number was used only as a test line number by technicians. Other early allocated 0800 numbers were 10 digits, including the prefix. ChildLine’s number is unique, one of 8 digit 0800 UK numbers to ever have been allocated and the only one still in use and active today in the UK.
ChildLine is also available on the harmonized numbers for child crisis help lines.
Schools Visited by ChildLine Volunteers
The helpline team of ChildLine volunteers visit every UK primary school a minimum of every two years to teach the school children about abuse. The new NSPCC campaign called ‘Now I Know’ targets teaching 9 to 11-year-olds about self-protection and getting help. On average, two children in every class have suffered abuse or neglect, the charity said. Chief Executor Peter Wanless emphasized, “We want our children to be able to say ‘now I know’ – and not ‘I wish I had known’. And we want everyone to play their part by personally looking out for children and reinforcing these messages about speaking up.”
Jimmy Savile, a sex offender who died in 2011, has been reported as one of the most prolific sexual offenders in the 129 history of the NSPCC. His crimes are just one shocking illustration of when people do not speak up and are not heard, for whatever reason, according to Wanless.
According to ChildLine, the majority of children who contact its helpline are aged over 11, but many speak about abuse which happened months or even several years earlier. A study by YouGov for NSPCC revealed only 36% of UK adults think they would have recognised abuse if it had happened to them at primary school age. It also reported that only 38% of those polled would have known who to ask for help at that time. This is alarming and also explains why today so many victims of past abuse come forward with stories decades old, hoping society can now assuage their psychological and emotional scars.
Emphasis and education has to be conducted to prevent abuse before it occurs. Giving attention after abuse, while better than no attention at all, still falls short of preventing any permanent damage to the lives of the abused. The ChildLine Schools Service is free to all UK primary schools and has visited 270,895 children in 3,956 schools so far.
Historical Murders Bring New Law
A petition for a new law demanding all social and child workers report abuse when detected or even suspected will soon be handed to 10 Downing Street. This petition will be ahead of the publication of the serious case review into the murder of little Daniel Pelka, 4 years old, committed by his mother and stepfather in 2012. It is expected that the rise in awareness and anger over the case of the murdered child will bolster the passing and approval of the petition requiring workers to report incidents which they suspect are related to child abuse of any nature.
Also helpful will be the national inquiry into the case of a well known celebrity BBC presenter and DJ who has been accused of pedophile sexual child abuse of over three hundred children in the space of 40 years, some abuse occurring in the BBC facility to their guests. While the muddied waters surrounding the alleged crimes against children by the BBC celebrity assist the public outcry demanding more protection for our children, there is another vanguard driving hard in the UK for the same.
Abuse Must Be Reported!
In the recent past, child abuse especially sexual abuse, went unreported and even covered up by some quarters, much to the detriment and extreme suffering of the children exposed to them. Chief Executor Peter Wanless of the NSPC is providing valuable assistance in the investigation into the Dolphin Square scandal involving claims of many victims of child sexual abuse by high ranking military and government officials which went unreported and undiscovered until recent findings. The negative effect of such revelations is daunting but the overall incentive to see that such atrocities never happen again under the protection of the UK government is surmounting the negativity. Having now become painfully aware of the past criminal activity, it is the duty of every member of Parliament and every citizen on the streets and byways of the United Kingdom to ensure that this historical abuse is never repeated.
Passage of the law requiring officials to report any hint or suspicion of child abuse will solve many who in the past slipped as suffering unknowns through the bureaucracy crack. More can be done when the children themselves are educated on what abuse is and how to report it, and to whom the report should be made. ChildLine posters help spread the word and keep the counselling number in view.
Fear not that a charge might be made without just cause and hurt an innocent accused. The appropriate means and psychological handling of the child abuse eradication are in place and both the injured party and the accused will be protected from unfairness and false reports. ChildLine is taking the reins in educating the children in primary schools, and the adult public must glean informative education for itself through the media and government information issues.
“Every Childhood is Worth Fighting For”
Abuse truly and irrevocably robs children of childhood. Without assistance, they will bear the scars of abuse a lifetime. Devastating as it can be for the child, society pays a very dear and damaging price also. ChildLine’s motto is “Every Childhood is Worth Fighting For”. The fight is not over but the battles are being won.
Abuse changes childhood, but so can you!
Child abuse is preventable and not inevitable experiences of all children. Each of us to must commit to do everything possible to keep childhood safe in the UK from abuse, so your children grow up healthy and productive members of society. You are invited to join in this fight to help save the UK children. Contact ChildLine by telephone, text, email or filling out their online form.
Ways to contact ChildLine