Scots youngsters dial Childline over terror threat

Some of the children were described as being "petrified" of a potential attack. Picture: PASome of the children were described as being "petrified" of a potential attack. Picture: PA
Some of the children were described as being "petrified" of a potential attack. Picture: PA

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Children as young as nine have contacted Childline 'petrified' about terror attacks in the year since the Paris atrocities.

The NSPCC’s round-the-clock service has handled 660 counselling sessions about terrorism since November 2015, with children mentioning panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares about terror attacks.

Counsellors at Scotland’s two Childline bases in Aberdeen and Glasgow handled 111 of these sessions from children across the UK in that time.

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Many feared the outbreak of war and frequently told Childline that they were scared of a terror attack hurting their families.

Across the UK one in five of the contacts to the free, anonymous service, were from young people aged 11 or younger.

The Paris attacks on November 13, 2015, and the atrocities in Brussels, Orlando, Nice, and Munich this year all triggered a higher volume of calls, with girls twice as likely as boys to contact the service.

Matt Forde, national head of services for NSPCC Scotland, said: “These vicious attacks have seared themselves into the consciousness of children, who tell us how petrified they are of these sadistic atrocities happening on UK shores.

“The past 12 months have been stained by these bloody events and it is little wonder that young people are so frightened about terrorism.

“Sadly we now live in a world where the months are punctuated by these attacks, so it is vital that we do not brush young peoples’ fears aside.

“Instead, we must listen to their worries and reassure them that there are people doing everything they can to keep us all safe.

“Childline is always here to listen to a child, and our helpline can offer adults advice on how to comfort and talk to children about difficult topics.”

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Young people, aged 12 to 15, were the most likely to speak to counsellors.

The NSPCC’s helpline service helps parents by advising them on how to talk to children about terrorism.

Trained counsellors recommend letting your child know that that they can talk openly with you about their concerns, do not panic them, and make them feel safe and loved.

Parents can also help their child by asking them about what they know and how they feel about it, agreeing such attacks are frightening and sad, but reassuring them that adults are doing everything they can to stop these incidents.

The NSPCC also advises avoiding complicated, worrying explanations, as children will not be able to process the information and it could leave them more frightened and confused.

Any young person who is worried can call Childline free and anonymously on 0800 11 11 and adults who want advice on how to talk to their child about terrorism can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.