Record number of LGBT children ask Childline for help
There has been a sharp rise in the number of young people calling Childline about LGBT issues.
7,729 counselling sessions about gender and sexuality were carried out by the charity between 2015 and 2016, the most recent year figures are available for.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), who run the children’s helpline, say it marks a 47% increase from the previous year’s figures – now the highest ever reported.
More than a quarter of callers had never confided in someone about their LGBT issues prior to calling the service.
Dame Esther Rantzen, President of Childline said: “I have met young people who were desperately unhappy because they couldn’t talk to anyone about issues regarding their sexuality and I am so pleased that they do feel able to talk to Childline and reveal their feelings without being judged or stigmatised.
“It is not helpful that children use the term ‘gay’ as a common term of playground abuse.
“Furthermore, for years the adult world has created a taboo around these issues which effectively imprisoned young people and in some cases has even led to depression and suicide.
“Childline is calling upon the adult world to listen sensitively and support young people and protect them from this profound unhappiness and loneliness.”
The most common age to call with LGBT issues was 12-15 years old.
Meanwhile some 450 of the calls the charity received were related to bullying in school.
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CEO of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless, said: “Talking about sexuality and gender identity can be daunting for anyone, but especially for children and young people who are still trying to find their place in the world.
“Fear of being stigmatized or subjected to bullying can force many to bottle up their thoughts and feelings which can leave them feeling isolated, and can trigger serious mental health issues.
“It is vital children and young people feel confident and supported to speak openly about sexuality or gender identity without fear of negative reactions and abuse.
“Adults, be it a parent, relation, teacher or friend, have a key part to play by helping them navigate these difficult and confusing issues, encouraging them to speak out, if not to them, then to peers or Childline.”
Childline provides a safe, confidential place for children with no one else to turn to, whatever their worry, whenever they need help. Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 or online.