More children calling for help

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The Independent Online

Record numbers of children aged under 11 are seeking professional help to cope with arguments and problems with their parents or siblings.

Record numbers of children aged under 11 are seeking professional help to cope with arguments and problems with their parents or siblings.

More than 20,000 contacted ChildLine, the 24-hour helpline for young people, last year - an increase of 20 per cent on the previous two years, the charity reports today.

Although bullying was the most common problem that young children complained about (31 per cent), an increasing number called for help with family problems. Slightly below 20 per cent were trying to sort out such difficulties, highlighting the importance younger children placeon their immediate familyrelationships.

Children who called about their family described a range of problems, from minor upsets such as arguments with parents or siblings, to serious breakdowns. Many of the difficulties reflected changes in family life such as an older sibling leaving home or a new baby. Some children were deeply upset by parental separation and divorce, or were struggling to adjust to new step-parents.

A little more than 20 per cent contacted the charity about sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect, and about 10 per cent called because they were having problems with their friends or are worried about people close to them.

Despite the increase in the number of younger children being counselled, the charity believes that many remain unaware of how to get help.

Independent research shows that only 48 per cent of primary school children are aware of ChildLine, compared with 90 per cent of those aged 11 to 15, and to raise awareness the charity has joined forces with Kellogg's, which will advertise the helpline service on cereal boxes, reaching an estimated 54 per cent of British households.

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