We Cannot Risk Creating A Generation Of Children Who Feel Worthless, Cut Off And Alone

09/09/2016 10:03
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Childline offers a unique insight into the worries and concerns felt by our nation's children. And in the report we published this week, the picture of what we've been listening to is an alarming one. Up and down the UK, increasing numbers of children are reaching such desperate emotional states that they feel they have no option but to contemplate ending their lives.

Our counsellors, many of whom are volunteers, consistently hear how the stresses of abuse, turbulent home life, peer pressure and school are just some of the reasons that leave children feeling so utterly hopeless. Children shoulder these troubles without a sense anyone is there to value them until finally they can bear the weight of their problems no longer and buckle under the strain.

As Childline celebrates its 30th birthday, we know that in our increasingly pressurised society there is little time to switch off and that technology often exacerbates the problem. We hear time and time again about a nation of unhappy, worried and disturbed children who are suffering in the 21st Century, in a way that the generations before them didn't. Bullying stretches from the playground into the night as phones, apps and emails flash in the darkness of a bedrooms. Opportunities to be groomed, feel insecure about body image and abuse can be similarly ever present.

Whilst technological development is a natural part of societal evolution, we have to be sure that our children are prepared properly to cope with the pressures this brings, whether that's in the classroom or at home. Healthy relationships are such an important aspect of a happy life and these are increasingly hard to judge. We cannot risk creating a generation of children who feel so worthless, alone, and cut off from support that they feel life is not worth living. It's gravely worrying how many of these desperate children are apparently so unnoticed by those around them. What does that say about the support that we as a society offer them? So often we hear from young people that nobody seems to notice or care about their worries, leaving them to wrestle with their problems alone.

We must help nurture an environment in which children are more confident that if they speak up, they will be heard and taken seriously, were they can share their anxieties earlier and feel there is help and support available. We know that often those that have mental health difficulties feel they are left in the shadows. And there are some young people whose problems are grounded in the underlying trauma of abuse for which they deserve timely specialist support. We have been calling on government through our It's Time campaign to ensure all abused children have access to the therapy they may need to help overcome their ordeals.

We have to make sure that all children know that they won't be abandoned to deal with the stresses and strains of life. Wen you know someone is listening, things can and do get better. The first conversation might be the hardest, but plucking up the courage to speak to someone is the first step. It is up to all of us to reassure our children who are struggling that they are valued and cherished and that life is worth living. And let's also make sure they know for those moments in the darkness, that Childline is always there, whatever their situation, offering non-judgmental advice and support.