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Nearly 5,000 children under-11 years old contacted Childline over bullying last year 

Almost 5,000 children under 11 had to be counselled for bullying and cyberbullying last year, Childline has revealed.

The national helpline said young children were regularly being targeted by peers online, at school and in their neighbourhoods.

And bullying was the most frequently discussed problem for under-11s who contacted its counsellors, the charity added.

Childline said young children were regularly being targeted by peers online, at school and in their neighbourhoods (file photo)

A total of 19,681 children and teenagers contacted Childline in 2017/18 about bullying, with around half aged 12 to 15.

The figures were released ahead of Anti-bullying Week, starting today, to highlight the scale of the problem facing youngsters.

Childline service manager Wendy Robinson said: ‘Every year thousands of young people receive counselling from us having suffered bullying and cyberbullying.

‘These experiences can have a devastating impact on their lives, potentially leading to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and in the very worst cases, suicide.

‘Whether it’s happening online or in the real world, it is vitally important that any young person who is experiencing bullying talks to someone they trust, be it a friend, parent, teacher or a Childline counsellor.’

Earlier this year, a study by the NSPCC, which runs Childline, found schools are sending increasing numbers of children for mental health treatment amid an explosion of depression.

A total of 19,681 children and teenagers contacted Childline in 2017/18 about bullying, with around half aged 12 to 15 (file photo)

A total of 19,681 children and teenagers contacted Childline in 2017/18 about bullying, with around half aged 12 to 15 (file photo)

The number of referrals by schools seeking mental health treatment for troubled pupils has shot up in the past four years. Across 53 NHS Trusts, there were 34,757 referrals in 2017-18, compared with 25,140 in 2014-15.

Many experts blame the rise of cyberbullying for the trend, as many children now have no escape from their tormentors, who can reach them at all hours via their smartphones.

Mrs Robinson added: ‘We hope that Anti-bullying Week encourages young people to remember how their actions and words can impact other children and teenagers.’

In May, Esther Rantzen, who set up Childline, said it had more youngsters calling about depression than about abuse.

She added: ‘With the loss of the extended family and the loss of the community, it means that young people that have some really distressing problem in their lives come to us. 

‘It has been creeping up for the last ten years.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk