Childline by ISPCC reports over 100 contacts made in relation to sexual abuse in past month

  • Ireland’s only 24hour listening service for children and young people launches national Christmas appeal as harrowing statistics reveal up to 10 contacts per week from teenagers pertaining to rape

Dublin, November 27th, 2023 – Childline by ISPCC has today launched a national Christmas appeal with heartbreaking statistics that reveal Ireland’s only 24-hour listening service for children and young people receives:

• 120,000 contacts each year of which almost one quarter are classified “level 4” – the most concerning.

• 26 contacts from children and young people in relation to child sexual abuse on a weekly basis. 

• 169 contacts about incest to date (November 27th, 2023)

• Weekly Childline by ISPCC receives between five to 10 contacts from teenagers about rape. 


This Christmas the team of staff and volunteers at ISPCC will be working hard to address these horrifying statistics. The 24/7 Childline listening service means that there is always someone to listen if a child or young person needs to share their story, during the festive season and all through the year.


Many of the contacts received by the team at ISPCC are heartbreaking. One of our volunteers Ciara* spoke several times to a little 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 Maria* tells of a young caller Jess* who was also being abused at home. Jess had been calling Childline regularly and through talking to our volunteers had built up her courage and determination to protect and save her siblings from her own horrifying experience. 


Orla and Jess’s experiences are not rare. According to the CSO Sexual Violence Survey 2022, 41% of respondents, aged 18-24, experienced sexual violence as a child. Of those surveyed, 83% of victims knew the perpetrator.


Mairead McGinn, Director of Fundraising, ISPCC said: “Childline relies heavily on public generosity to help keep us here for every child and young person 24 hours a day. We depend on donations for up to 75% of the funding which keeps us listening 24hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. Every donation, no matter how small, makes a real difference and helps to ensure that we always provide a listening ear and support to those who need it.”

 In addition to our 24/7 Childline service, ISPCC is also playing an active role to help prevent child sexual abuse through a number of proactive initiatives.


“At ISPCC, we know how important technology is as a means of combatting child sexual abuse. We are delighted to be involved in the GroSafe research project with TU Dublin, the aim of which is to develop a technology-enabled solution to build societal resilience to child grooming,” said Fiona Jennings, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, ISPCC.


She continued: “We are also working with TU Dublin in an End Violence Against Children funded research project to develop a tool that reveals the patterns of adults perpetrating online child sexual abuse and the children who are affected by such violence.”’


To donate this Christmas, go to

*Names have been changed 




ISPCC welcomes Budget proposals for improved mental health services for children and young people but notes there’s more to be done

ISPCC welcomes Minister Mary Butler’s Budget 2024 announcements for children and young people’s mental health, in particular the creation of a new central referral mechanism. This will allow the HSE to triage referrals to the right service ensuring what the Minister refers to as a ‘no wrong door’ approach. We know first-hand of the frustrations of children and families when they are trying to access appropriate support and end up being moved around from waiting list to waiting list.

The allocation of funding for a new mental health app is positive and ought to help with signposting users to the services and supports that are available.  

We also welcome the Minister’s comments on the important role NGOs, such as ISPCC, play in the delivery of mental-health support services in the community. As an organisation dedicated to supporting children and young people, ISPCC recognises the need for systemic change in how we, as a society, address mental-health concerns. Therefore, it is heartening to hear that a new head has been appointed to lead the work on reforming child and youth mental health.

The Budget 2024 investment is a welcome successor to that contained in Budget 2023. Then, funding was allocated for the first ever Clinical Lead for Youth Mental Health and the establishment of a dedicated National Office for Child and Youth Mental Health. These are both key steps in providing leadership and oversight in this area.

ISPCC Head of Policy and Public Affairs Fiona Jennings says that “we recognise the systemic challenges our mental-health sector faces and believe these can only be overcome by a concerted effort among all stakeholders. The announcement of a triage service to help direct children and young people to appropriate services is hugely welcome and will go some way to alleviating waiting lists.

“However, mental health funding remains a long way off from the 10% target of overall health spending by 2025.”

The combination of the proposed triage system, the establishment of the child poverty and wellbeing unit in the Department of An Taoiseach and that mental health may be a spotlight issue in the next national policy framework for children and young people mean that these initiatives ought to go some way to realising the pathfinder way of working and we welcome this.

Children with complex needs are a group of children who will require a particular focus and all efforts must be employed to ensure they do not slip through the cracks.

There has never been a more important time than now to prioritise the mental health of young people, as families face financial uncertainty, young people tackle new levels of social media pressure and they are exposed to the reality of wars and the aftermath of a global pandemic.

At Childline, we are dedicated to helping children with difficult situations and empowering them to strengthen their resilience, equipping them to cope with adversity and to come back even stronger after a difficult or stressful experience.

Childline can be reached online at or by calling 1800 66 66 66.

The service is confidential, non-judgemental and non-directive, meaning it doesn’t tell children and young people how to solve their problems.

Some children may feel that their issue is not important enough to seek support. But we believe everything in life is worth talking about.

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. To register, click here
  • Parents and young people webinar, Thursday, October 12, 7pm to 7.30pm. 


You can watch back the webinars below: 


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


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

Krystal & The Queers come out in support of ISPCC ahead of fabulous Cork fundraiser

On May 19, Cork will be buzzing as Krystal & The Queers take to the stage at the city’s Gaia bar on 98th Street for a night of fun and frolics with all funds raised going to ISPCC. 

The Cork drag scene is thriving and the unforgettable performances of Krystal Queer and her fellow drag queens Liam Bee and Kia Koke are inspired by the New York club vibe of the 1980s and 1990s. 

Prepare to be surprised as Krystal Queer herself has said that you never know what you’re going to get with her. Characters such as Meg Griffin and Marge Simpson may even make special guest star appearances…

All will be revealed on May 19th. 

ISPCC, and its suite of Childline services including the 24/7 listening service, is a cause very dear to Krystal Queer. 

“This fundraiser holds a special place in my heart as when I was younger, I was deeply affected by the suicide of a friend. Unfortunately, a legion of others can say the same. We want to turn that grief into a positive force and aid Childline by doing what we do best – laughing, dancing and celebrating life. 

“Countless young people suffer in silence and darkness so we are pledging to be as loud and as bright as we can be. Everyone’s mental health matters – whether you’re a dentist, a driver or a drag queen.”

Doors open at 6.30pm, the performance starts at 7.30pm and will be followed by a DJ. Tickets priced at €10 are available on Eventbrite or at the door. 

A raffle on the night includes such fantastic prizes as one night B&B at the luxury four-star Kingsley Hotel, a €50 Spitjack voucher and much more.

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 donate to ISPCC,

ISPCC’s free Space from Anxiety programme is the right prescription for increasing numbers of young people suffering from anxiety

“This programme really helped me to overcome my feeling of depression and low self-esteem,” said one user of ISPCC’s free Space from Anxiety programme, who added that “I could identify the possible triggers and take the necessary actions to relieve them, as opposed to them spiralling out of control and morphing into a mass of negativity.”

Volunteers at ISPCC’s 24/7 Childline Listening service have experienced a rise in conversations amongst children seeking support in relation to anxiety and feelings of low mood and unhappiness. Anxiety is a topic frequently discussed by children who speak with Childline both online and on the phone, says ISPCC Chief Executive John Church. 

For those children and young people suffering from low to moderate anxiety, ISPCC can offer a solution – Space from Anxiety. This is a free online CBT-based programme created by SilverCloud, a leading digital mental health provider. ISPCC provides three separate but complimentary Digital Mental Health and Wellbeing programmes, one of which is designed for teenagers experiencing anxiety and two are available to parents/carers of either anxious children or teens. 

Space from Anxiety is aimed at 14–18-year-olds, and it is designed to empower young people who experience low to moderate anxiety. Supporting an Anxious Child and Supporting an Anxious Teen are programmes that will help users to understand anxiety and better support their child or young person. 

The programme includes interactive tools, activities, mood monitors and journals to encourage users to apply CBT to their own lives. Throughout the duration of the early intervention programme, users will be supported by fully trained ISPCC volunteers. 

Dee Higgins, an ISPCC volunteer, believes that the programme is empowering for users of all ages. “It gives parents and young people a chance to deal with their anxieties before it becomes a huge issue,” she said, adding that “if parents can understand what their child is going through, that’s a huge step.” 

Users have 12 weeks in which to complete the programme under the guidance of a volunteer and can benefit from an unsupported version of the programme for one year after this time. 

There are several ways to access the programmes including making a self-referral through a GP, CAMHS or school.

Dee Higgins says that volunteers build a relationship with users as they support them. “It’s a great resource, there are so many children and young people suffering from anxiety and it gives them a chance to learn the skills to introduce into their day-to-day life and help them deal with anxiety, recognise how they are feeling and understand the physical effects they feel from anxiety. 

“Following the programme starts them on the journey to learning the skills to help themselves and others and that’s something they can use for the rest of their lives.”