News : Rise in Helpline Calls from Children with Disabilities May be 'Tip of Iceberg'
London, UK, Nov, 2017 -- More children with disabilities, additional support needs or health conditions sought help from Childline last year, figures show.
Youngsters using the free phone, online chat and email counselling service reported bullying, abuse and anxiety.
Some said they feared having "no future" because of their condition and said they could not envisage being in a loving relationship.
Demand for counselling services rose by 13 per cent in 2016-17, with more than 8250 sessions delivered.
Callers reported being called a "freak" and suffering abuse while going to and from school.
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Others expressed frustration about the way their conditions adversely impact their ability to navigate daily life.
However, the NSPCC-run charity fears far more disabled young people may struggle without support.
This group is three times more likely to suffer abuse or neglect from peers, according to research, and less likely to receive the protection and help needed.
John Cameron, NSPCC head of helplines, said: "It’s extremely concerning to see so many disabled children and teenagers contacting Childline but this could be only the tip of the iceberg."
Many of the contacts were handled by the charity’s bases in Aberdeen and Glasgow.
The disabilities or conditions most commonly recorded by Childline included autism, learning difficulties, physical disability or mobility issues, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Cameron said: "We know that disabled young people are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect and we need to ensure that support and advice is available to all those who could find themselves in difficult or dangerous situations.
"Childline counsellors will continue to support as many disabled young people as possible to ensure that they have the ability to live without fear of prejudice."
One young person who sought help from Childline said: "I ended up moving primary schools five times, and twice in secondary school because of bullying.
"I was chased by others who were saying they wanted to set me on fire for being weird.
"It was a terrifying experience and afterwards I started to use the Childline message boards to talk about how I was feeling.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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