Staying safe online: ISPCC offers FREE webinars for parents and their children on World Mental Health Day

October 2023

The online landscape is constantly shifting and evolving and it’s hard for even the most tech savvy among us to keep on top of the latest developments. As a parent, teaching your children how to stay safe when they’re online while also encouraging them not to fear new technology is a very tricky balance. ISPCC can help.

This World Mental Health Day on October 10, ISPCC parenting leads Siobhan Harvey, Niamh Clarke and Victoria Howson are hosting a one-hour webinar designed to help parents of those aged 12 and over to learn more about online safety and to develop the key skills necessary to support their child.

But it is also important to involve your child in learning how to safely navigate online. So two days later, on October 12, ISPCC is hosting a second, 30-minute webinar aimed at children aged 12 years and over accompanied by a parent.

The aim of both webinars is to help both parents and young people to increase their online knowledge and to critically analyse relevant issues. Parents will learn the key skills to support their children, while young people will learn more about how to safely navigate online. 

Online safety is a huge area and the thought of it can be daunting, but these webinars will provide a safe, non-judgemental place to ask questions, while also offering key take-aways in bite-size, easily digestible chunks.

We at ISPCC know only too well the importance of staying safe online. Children and young people tell us their concerns through our 24/7 Childline listening service, through our therapeutic services and through our Shield Anti-Bullying programme.

We know what is worrying children and young people in Ireland; we know what is on their minds and we know how to support them.

We understand that parents, teachers and young people are concerned that our increasing reliance on digital technologies are exacerbating feelings of anxiety and depression among our youth, and we’re here to listen and to help.

Webinar details are:  

  • Parents webinar, Tuesday, October 10, 7pm to 8pm
  • Parents and young people webinar, Thursday, October 12, 7pm to 7.30pm

This Halloween, do the Conga Line for Childline!

Hey teachers, want to do something spectacularly spooky and scary this Halloween? Don’t worry, it’s all in a good cause and you can make a real difference to children and young people throughout Ireland while also channelling your inner monster, zombie or even werewolf…

This Halloween marks the very first Conga Line for Childline and everyone at school is invited:

Skeletons, witches and ghosts, you’re all very welcome to this Childline get-together – as long as you’ve got your dancing shoes on! It’s going to be a scream…

We’re asking teachers and students alike to dress up during any day in October, flaunt their fang-tastic outfits and then get ready to show off their moves. Each class will form a conga line through the school, spreading joy and awareness for Childline.

Together we can make a real difference for children and young people throughout Ireland.

Conga Line for Childline is the ISPCC’s latest school campaign. We want to bring children together to have fun, while making a big difference to the lives of others. Every student is invited to donate €4 as part of this fundraiser for Childline, a service that provides support for all children and young people, no matter what’s on their mind.

ISPCC needs to raise over 75% of its funding through donations each year to ensure we can be there to support children and young people 24-hours a day, 365 days of the year. We rely on the generosity of the public and are grateful for all support. We encourage children to reach out for any reason.

To participate in Conga Line for Childline, simply do the following:
• sign up your class or school by registering here and you will automatically receive your fundraising page
• choose a date in October. Childline will send you a digital information booklet and post balloons and posters to you for your event
• ask each student to donate €4 though your school’s fundraising page. This link can easily be sent to parents/guardians through email, shared on your school’s website/social media or WhatsApp as well as Aladdin and Unique
• Childline will provide your school with a virtual school talk and certificate upon completion of Conga Line for Childline
• Donations will automatically be sent to Childline from the fundraising page. These donations will support our 24/7 listening service

Notes to Editors: 
ISPCC spokespeople are available for comment or interview.
For more information, please contact: 
Rowena Walsh, ISPCC Media and Communications Coordinator 
Tel: 087 2997872 Email: [email protected]

ISPCC is a charity dedicated to enhancing the lives of children and young people. The charity provides a suite of Childline services and supports for children and young people up to and including those aged 18 years old.  Childline’s 24-hour support line can be contacted for FREE, 365 days a year 24/7.  Children can chat online at or call 1800 66 66 66. 
ISPCC provide services, supports and programmes for parents/carers and those working or volunteering in child and youth settings e.g., schools, clubs, crèches etc. 

Making their mark – the tattoo shops teaming up for Childline

Three tattoo shops in Cork are coming together for one day only to support the fabulous work carried out by ISPCC volunteers on our 24/7 Childline listening service. 

On Friday, October 13, 2023, Black Poppy, Smiley Dogg and Art Lab will donate 100% of their profits to ISPCC. Customers can choose from flash sheets ranging from €60 to €100, while temporary tattoos are also available, including Childline-related symbols and Friday the 13th effects. 

The three shops will be open from 11am to 6pm, and people can donate in each studio when they’re paying for their tattoo. Those who are unable to make the event or want to make an extra donation can go to the Childline idonate page:

For Dee Byrne of Smiley Dogg Tattoo, teaming up with their supposed rivals was an easy decision. “By uniting with other tattoo studios in the community in support of the Childline fundraiser, we are demonstrating that art, compassion and collective effort can bring about meaningful change,” says Dee. 

She adds that Childline’s mission of providing a lifeline for vulnerable children and adolescents resonates deeply with her and her fellow creatives at Smiley Dogg Tattoo, which has two branches in Cork city – at North Main St and Oliver Plunkett Street. 

“We hope that by engaging in this fundraiser, we can channel our creative passion into making a difference in these young lives. Each ink stroke will serve as a symbol of optimism and hope, a testament to the resilience of these youngsters and a reminder that art can go beyond visual appearances to positively impact lives.”

Dee’s feelings are echoed by Jacob Stahlecker, co-owner of Black Poppy, which is located on Father Matthew St, who says that the artists at the studio have been committed to giving back to our adopted homes and community since it opened in 2020. He is very happy to support the fundraiser for Childline, a service that provides support for all children and young people, no matter what’s on their mind. 

ISPCC needs to raise over 75% of its funding through donations each year to ensure we can be there to support children and young people 24-hours a day, 365 days of the year.  We rely on the generosity of the public and are grateful for all support. We encourage children to reach out for any reason.



ISPCC and acclaimed author Katie O’Donoghue team up for FREE webinar on coping with anxiety for primary-school teachers and their students

Anxiety can strike even the youngest among us, and it’s never too early to learn coping strategies. So ISPCC and acclaimed author Katie O’Donoghue are collaborating to present ‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’, a free workshop for primary-school teachers and their students on September 26. 

The one-hour webinar is aimed at children aged between five and eight years of age.  ISPCC parenting leads, Siobhan Harvey and Niamh Clarke, will be joined by Katie O’Donoghue, an author, illustrator and art psychotherapist.  

 The webinar is based on Katie’s debut book ‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’, the tale of a woodland creature who hasn’t left his nest since last autumn. He needs to gather nuts for the long winter to come but he’s too worried to leave his cosy home.

This well-being workshop combines creative therapeutic activities and storytelling. All that is needed to participate in the webinar are the following:

• Colouring templates, provided by ISPCC

• Sheets of blank paper

• Colouring pens/crayons/markers

• An envelope for each participating child

• Parent information guidance sheet on worry time, provided by ISPCC

This is the latest collaboration between ISPCC and Katie after a successful webinar series earlier this year, which focussed on strengthening resilience and coping with anxiety. 

We at ISPCC know what is worrying children and young people in Ireland; we know what is on their minds and we know how to support them.

Participants who register by clicking here will also be in with a chance to win a signed copy of Katie’s latest book The Little Otter Who Tried, which aims to teach children valuable lessons about self-care, resilience and the best ways of asking for help.

Webinar details are:  

Tuesday, September 26, 11.30am to 12.30pm


ISPCC CEO John Church appointed to the Board of Mental Health Reform

John Church, ISPCC CEO, has been appointed to the Board of Mental Health Reform (MHR) following the ratification of his nomination at today’s annual general meeting in Coleraine House, Dublin 7. 

John is a leading voice for advocacy for children and young people in Ireland. The areas of online safety for children and young people coupled with their mental health and well-being have been a particular focus for John since assuming the CEO role at ISPCC in 2018. 

Commenting on his appointment John said: “I am proud to join the MHR Board and I look forward to working with my fellow board members to tackle the mental health challenges currently faced by children and young people in Ireland. At ISPCC, mental health concerns are one of the primary reasons why children and young people use our services. I believe that the Government must commit to a policy of both targeted and universal investment in mental health service provision for all children and young people. 

“We reiterate our call for Government to commit with haste to the implementation of the Pathfinder interdepartmental unit on youth mental health in order to align and streamline the mental health responsibilities across various government departments.”

Continued Church: “This has been a key policy ask of the ISPCC since it was first recommended in the National Youth Mental Health Task Force Report in 2017, of which ISPCC was a member. There can be no further delay if we are truly committed to providing a world class mental health service to children and young people across Ireland.”

The ISPCC is a proud and active governing member of Mental Health Reform and looks forward to working with fellow board members to deliver on MHR’s new ambitious strategic plan. 

ISPCC partners with TU Dublin to combat child grooming

The ISPCC is proud to be a member of the GroSafe research team led by TU Dublin and funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s National Challenge Fund – OurTech. The aim of the GroSafe team is to develop a technology-enabled solution designed to build societal resilience against child grooming.

Grooming refers to someone building a relationship with a child or young person in order to manipulate, exploit and/or abuse them. It can happen both in person and online. Incidences of children and young people being targeted often go unreported and, consequently, we don’t fully understand the extent of the problem and how these acts are committed. 

A further consequence of this lack of understanding is whether the supports and systems in place are equitable in helping people to report such crimes against children.

The development of GroSafe will help to overcome the existing obstacles to increase reporting rates in our communities. This will enable the more effective allocation of resources and ultimately reduce harm to one of society’s most vulnerable populations.

Parents and caregivers want to keep their children safe but, unfortunately, it’s not possible to keep an eye on a child 24 hours a day and it’s even more challenging when they go online.

Some indications of children and young people being groomed include becoming secretive about how they are spending their time both online and offline, having gifts that they can’t or refuse to account for and demonstrating sexualised behaviour, language or an understanding of sex that isn’t age-appropriate.

Products and services built on end-to-end encryption can adversely affect the detection of such behaviour. This means that it’s crucial for children, young people and their families to be empowered to identify these harmful activities and to report such crimes.

Fiona Jennings, ISPCC Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “The grooming of children for nefarious means is a complex issue and can have devasting consequences for all involved. Awareness is crucial as often victims and their families don’t recognise when they are being groomed.  

“The GroSafe team proposes to develop a technology-enabled solution that increases this awareness and signposts to the appropriate supports, including reporting.

“The use of technology is ubiquitous among children and young people today. Therefore, it is important that we leverage this usage and develop an appropriate solution in this environment. This invaluable information will then help us to inform children, young people, their parents or carers about emerging and evolving threats and to inform and improve our policy responses.”

The collaborative research team comprises TU Dublin researchers and the ISPCC as societal impact champions.

It is imperative that we all work together to ensure children and young people are safe and protected, however we know from those who contact Childline that this is not always the case.

The Childline guide to a healthier, happier summer

Summertime and the livin’ is easy… well, that’s the plan but, for many children and their parents, the thought of the long weeks of the holidays without the safety net of the school regime can be daunting.

At Childline, we know that children and young people can feel anxious during the summer. They miss their usual routine, their friends and, sometimes, the safety and structure of school.

Parents tell us they are worried about keeping their children entertained for such a long amount of time on a budget. They can be concerned about older siblings minding younger ones, children being lonely or being in potentially unsafe situations when they play outside or online.

Work through some scenarios, suggests ISPCC Clinical Lead Bree O’Neill, and that way both parents and children will be more prepared for whatever challenges the summer may bring.

It is a different dynamic over the summer and parents need to gear themselves up for that. Think of the family and consider what each person might need – the aim is to try to ensure everyone’s needs are met and everyone’s limits are accepted.

Don’t judge yourself, says Bree. Chances are your children will have more treats and screentime than usual, but it is the holidays and that is normal. However, she does recommend that parents try to stick to some form of routine over the summer. This helps provide structure for children and parents, many of whom are trying to juggle work and childcare.

Despite the long days, children still need their sleep. Yes, it’s good to have fun on holidays, says Bree, but it will be a nightmare trying to get children back on track three days before school starts. Instead, she recommends bringing bedtimes back about a fortnight before the return to school.

For those children who suffer from anxiety, the long summer holidays can exacerbate these feelings, says Bree. ISPCC and our volunteers on the Childline 24/7 listening service are always here to help.

Bree believes that the summer offers a very good opportunity to focus on mental and emotional health for both children and parents. The time away from the usual constraints of school, exams and activities offers children, young people and their parents an opportunity to take stock, breathe and put steps into place that help to bolster wellness.

ISPCC offers three free online Digital Mental Health programmes designed for teenagers experiencing anxiety and parents/carers of both teens and younger children. These early intervention programmes are fully supported by volunteers, take one hour a week and can be completed at the user’s leisure within a 12-week timeframe.

For more information on ISPCC’s Digital Mental Health programmes, go to

Could you help Childline listen to children?

The Childline listening service is now recruiting volunteers for its offices in Dun Laoghaire, Limerick, Galway, Cork and Drogheda. Our volunteers are dedicated to helping Ireland’s children.

The service provided by ISPCC is always available to any child and young person across Ireland who would like to talk about any topic on their mind.  

Childline’s 24/7 listening service is free and confidential and can be reached online or by phone.  

Volunteers with the service come from all walks of life and are united by one common purpose: to help ensure no child or young person in Ireland has to face their challenges alone.  

An excellent team spirit and sense of support prevails at Childline units throughout the country. Volunteers receive full training in advance of answering their first contact and ongoing support and upskilling thereafter. 

Childline regional supervisor Mary Nolan Durkan says: “Childline volunteers play a vital role in helping to ensure there is always someone there to listen, support and empower children and young people in Ireland when they seek a listening ear. The Childline training course is a comprehensive course which equips volunteers with the skills to deliver a quality service to children.”

One of our volunteers Dee says that she never expected to get so much back from volunteering in her own life. “I have learned so many new skills and made friends from all walks of life. We are all united with a common purpose: to make sure every child has somewhere they can turn.”

Another volunteer Liz says that although she was initially nervous at the thought of becoming a volunteer with Childline, she is delighted that she did it. “People always think that you’re dealing with the most neglected children of society but this is not necessarily the truth, so many children just need to talk. It tugs at my heartstrings that so many children need Childline.”

If you would like more information on becoming a Childline volunteer and helping the service to listen to children and young people, please contact [email protected]