ChildLine has warned that the young people of Britain are deeply unhappy, and have to deal with fears and worries that did not exist 30 years ago.
According to ChildLine – the confidential counselling service run by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) – modern pressures such as cyberbullying and social media are affecting young peoples’ confidence and self-esteem, reported the Guardian.
The charity’s figures have revealed that in 1986 – when the 24-hour helpline began – youngsters’ biggest concerns were sexual abuse, family problems, physical abuse and pregnancy. However, last year their main worries were family relationships, low self-esteem, bullying (including cyberbullying) and self-harm.
The Daily Mail reported that overall, an astonishing 35,244 of the 286,812 counselling sessions held by the service in 2014/15 were related to low self-esteem and unhappiness – a 9 per cent increase on the previous year.
NSPCC chief executive, Peter Wanless said:
It is clear from the hundreds of thousands of calls ChildLine receives that we have a nation of deeply unhappy young people. The pressure to keep up with friends and have the perfect life online is adding to the sadness that many young people feel. Times may change but one thing stays the same – our vital helpline is often the only place that many young people feel they can turn to.
The NSPCC also revealed that the way people get in touch with them has changed radically, with less than one in three of ChildLine’s counselling sessions conducted over the phone last year, while 71 per cent involved email or online chat.
Dame Esther Rantzen, the founder of ChildLine, said:
It is a national tragedy that British children are so unhappy. I remember in 1986 how shocked we were to discover that so many children were suffering terrible abuse in their own homes. But today I am shocked by the acute unhappiness and loneliness that afflicts so many young people which means that, for many, the only place they can find comfort and protection is from our helpline.