We know that the shockwaves of the coronavirus pandemic have been difficult for many people in different ways, and we want to make it clear that as we move from crisis to recovery, we’re still here for children.
Through our services across Scotland, including Childline and our adult helpline, we are talking to children and families every day. We hear about the pressures they face, the struggles they go through and the impact that this is having on their lives and their mental health. Many have been worried about missing a lot of school, exam results and also about the health of their loved ones.
We have been deeply concerned about those children who were already vulnerable to being hidden victims of this crisis. Some have suffered abuse and neglect at home, and have felt isolated and lonely because they were not able to connect with their usual support networks or services.
Children not only faced an increased risk in the home during lockdown but also online; the greater amount of time they were spending on digital devices gave those looking to exploit children an unprecedented opportunity. Police Scotland recorded a higher number of online sexual abuse crimes against children in June than in any other month on record.
During lockdown, our Childline service saw an increase in children and young people getting in touch about their mental and emotional health; some talked about experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Unfortunately, when lockdown happened, we had to close Childline’s night service for the first time in our history and saw volunteer hours drop as counsellors had to self-isolate.
Now, thanks to the commitment of our incredible staff and volunteers, Childline is available from 7.30am to midnight Monday to Friday, and 9am to midnight at weekends.
As a country, we are planning our recovery, amid a climate of uncertainty with Covid-19 continuing to be a real threat. It is so important that children are supported through this and those who have endured traumatic experiences receive the help they need. Evidence shows that with the right help at the right time, children can recover from such experiences.
We need to make sure no child is left to cope alone, and that their recovery is prioritised and supported. We still have a challenge ahead of us, but together, we can be here for children.
But to continue in our work, we need the public’s support. You helped us be here before the pandemic, you helped us be here on the frontline throughout, and now we need your help so we can still be here, for every child.
Please, stand with us by visiting www.nspcc.org.uk/support-us/campaigns/still-here and adding your name to show your support.
Young people can get help from Childline at www.childline.org.uk or by calling 0800 1111 for free. Any adults with concerns about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline at email@example.com or on 0808 800 5000.