Over the past year Childline has delivered 15,515 counselling sessions where children have spoken about the abuse they have suffered or are experiencing, including 363 from Wales.

In 2,267 of those counselling sessions children revealed abuse for the first time, ever.

And of these, a fifth of disclosures took place during December 2021 and January 2022, with the youngest child just nine-years-old.

As the Christmas school holidays are fast approaching the charity is gearing up to keep its 13 Childline bases open 24/7 over the festive period, so they can be there whenever a child chooses to disclose.

When children talk about the sexual, emotional, physical or domestic abuse affecting them for the first time with Childline counsellors, often the same emotions and feelings are described. These include shame, being scared, or worried they were the ones that had done something wrong. Others shared they didn’t know how to tell adults in their life.

In the last year, the counselling service run by the NSPCC, has also seen:

• A 20 per cent increase in the number of children under 11 being counselled for sexual abuse, when compared to the year before

• A greater number of boys revealing online sexual abuse – 45 per cent more than the year before.

Last December a boy, aged 16, from Wales told a Childline counsellor:

“Just before Christmas my parents decided they couldn’t stand being together anymore. It has been hard going between two different homes over Christmas and they have argued about every single arrangement. I am also trying to support my little sister who is finding it difficult too. I know they were arguing more and more, but I just wish they could have worked things out.”

And a 12-year-old boy from Wales said:

“Ever since my mum died, dad’s been more and more controlling and stressed. I’m dreading having to spend Christmas with him as this will be just another excuse for him to drink a lot – and he gets easily upset when drunk. It’s hard to know what his mood will be like, but if he’s feeling angry, he might take it out on me as he did a couple of times before. I don’t want to be taken to foster care, so I pretend like all is ok at home when it’s not. How can I keep safe during Christmas?”

The NSPCC is releasing its latest Childline data about abuse as it launches its ‘Be here for children’ Christmas appeal, which shows why it is vitally important Childline stays open over the festive period, as statutory services close down.

The charity is growing increasingly concerned to see the number of children needing support, in particular forabuse and neglect, when the system is struggling to cope, and the cost-of-living crisis will likely leave more families needing help this Winter.

Last year, there were more than 89,200 reports of child sexual abuse recorded by police forces in England and Wales– and this is why the NSPCC is urging Government to make 2023 the year that child protection is made a national priority.

In its new TV advert, the NSPCC highlights that on average, two children a minute contact Childline. For these children, Christmas can be the worst time of year.

The advert is based on real calls from children. Through three seemingly ordinary family scenes at Christmas we see what’s really going on for the children, with stories of loss, domestic abuse, and sexual abuse.

Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder of Childline said: “I truly believe Childline is the fourth emergency service for children. We are there when children disclose abuse, we are there when they are feeling suicidal, we are there 24/7 when others aren’t.

“Our service relies heavily on volunteers and donations to be here for children, and like everyone else we are starting to feel the effects of the cost of living.

“Every minute, two children will contact us, and its vital no call goes unanswered, particularly over Christmas when most services close leaving those children who are struggling isolated and scared.”

“It is essential that Childline is here as a vital lifeline for those children and that they can get the help they need and deserve even on Christmas day.”

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “The Christmas holidays can be one of the most difficult times of the year for children, and they often need somewhere to go to confide. It is vitally important they know that Childline is here for them throughout the holidays to provide free and confidential help and advice.

“It is crucial that everyone recognises they have a part to play when it comes to keeping children safe from abuse, including government. 2022 has been a year where the importance of child protection has come to the forefront, 2023 needs to be the year of meaningful change.”

The Childline service is here for children every day, even on Christmas Day. Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 or via 1-2-1 chat on www.childline.org.uk

When a child needs help, Childline can be a lifeline. When a child feels like they have nowhere else to turn to, it’s vital that the NSPCC is here, ready to listen and support children across the UK.

Visiting the NSPCC website to donate​.