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Summer holidays are putting pressure on families warns Childline

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The service says calls regarding family problems peak during summer due to the strain of children being at home for longer

The number of children telling Childline they plan to run away has peaked over the school summer holidays.

The NSPCC, the charity which operates the service, says it is receiving around 100 contacts a day from young people wanting to discuss breakdowns in family relationships and problems in their homes.

Calls and messages of this nature have been accounting for one fifth of all contacts with many young people reporting feeling depressed, lonely and isolated and some considering running away from home.

One girl, aged 15, contacted Childline, which has centres in Aberdeen and Glasgow, because her parents’ arguments had led to her self-harming.

She told one of the service’s counsellors she felt scared and upset when she saw them argue.

The long school break is putting further strain on difficult family relationships

“Sometimes they swear and scream at each other and other times they hit each other.

“Mum sometimes takes it out on me and we end up arguing too and it’s horrible; it triggers my depression and I start to self-harm to cope.

“I worry a lot about what will happen to us - I’m struggling to sleep at night and I’ve lost my appetite.”

The NSPCC says Childline normally delivers around 39,000 counselling sessions in a year, either online or on the phone, concerning family relationships and problems in the home but they tend to peak over summer as children and young people spend more time at home during the extended break.

“An unhappy home life can have a huge impact on children and young people and the long school break is putting further strain on difficult family relationships,” Peter Wanless, chief executive of NSPCC said.

“A child’s home should be a safe place where they feel loved and cared for, but is often a cause of worry and anxiety ranging from parental break-ups to sibling arguments, their parents’ drug or alcohol abuse, being kicked out of home or the impact of money worries on the family.

“Some of these children need somewhere to vent, but for many they’re facing a really difficult time at home and desperately need someone to listen to them. Childline is there to help, providing them with a safe space to share their fears.”

To make it easier for young people to contact Childline, the NSPCC has unveiled a new website which makes it easier to access on mobiles and tablets.

The new site also allows users to create a mood journal so they can record, in confidence, how they feel each day and counsellors can respond if they have any concerns.

Working with children and young people, Childline has refreshed its branding to reflect that more and more of its counselling sessions are done via conducted online via email and chat.

The services iconic telephone symbol has been replaced by a new strapline ‘online, on the phone, anytime’ to reaffirm that the service is there for them, however and whenever they want to get in touch.

Matt Forde, NSPCC Scotland national head of service said: “It’s vital that children realise the Childline service is always just a phone call or a few clicks away. When they are struggling – Childline is there for them.

“Every day of the year fully-trained volunteers are there for young people. Whether it’s trouble at home or children just need someone to talk to Childline counsellors are there to listen and help.”