The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) stated in a press release that over 100 sexual abuse contacts had been made in the past month.
WARNING: Some readers may find this article upsetting
Childline, Ireland’s sole 24-hour hotline service for children and young people, has unveiled a national Christmas appeal in light of distressing statistics revealing a surge in contacts related to sexual abuse, particularly from teenagers.
The figures released by Childline include:
- 120,000 contacts annually, with almost one-quarter classified as level 4 – the most concerning.
- 26 weekly contacts from children and young people regarding child sexual abuse.
- 169 contacts** reported on incest to date (as of November 27, 2023).
- 5 to 10 weekly contacts from teenagers specifically addressing issues of rape.
The ISPCC team, comprised of dedicated staff and volunteers, will be actively addressing these alarming statistics during the Christmas season.
The 24/7 Childline service ensures that a supportive ear is always available for children and young people to share their stories throughout the festive season and year round.
Many of the contacts received by the team at ISPCC are heartbreaking. One of the volunteers, Cara spoke several times to a young girl named Orla, who rang about how scared she was of the monster who came to her bedroom at night.
This monster should have been one of the most trusted people in her life, but nine-year-old Orla was being sexually abused by a member of her family.
Another volunteer tells of a young caller named Jess, who was also being abused at home. Jess had been calling Childline regularly and through talking to the volunteers had built up her courage to protect and save her siblings from her own horrifying experience.
These stories echo a troubling reality reflected in the CSO Sexual Violence Survey 2022, revealing that 41 per cent of respondents aged 18-24 experienced sexual violence as children, with 83 per cent knowing the perpetrator.
Mairead McGinn, Director of Fundraising at ISPCC, emphasised the organisation’s dependence on public generosity, with donations contributing up to 75 per cent of the funding necessary to sustain the 24/7 listening service.
In addition to the essential support offered by Childline, ISPCC is actively engaged in preventing child sexual abuse through various initiatives. These include participation in the GroSafe research project with TU Dublin, aimed at developing technology-enabled solutions to combat child grooming, and collaboration with TU Dublin in an End Violence Against Children (EVAC) funded research project focused on identifying patterns of online child sexual abuse.
Childline recognises the heightened need for children and young people to reach out, especially during the holiday season. Available every day and night throughout Christmas and throughout the entire year, Childline remains committed to offering support to children in need.
*Names have been changed for protection.
Childline contact number: 1800 666666
To contribute to Childline’s vital services this Christmas, donations can be made at www.ispcc.ie/christmas-appeal-2023/.