Page last updated at 23:34 GMT, Sunday, 26 July 2009 00:34 UK

Rise in Childline calls from boys

Childline is taking more calls from boys than ever before

A record number of boys are contacting counsellors at ChildLine in Scotland, it has been revealed.

The helpline is taking calls from almost 12,000 boys a year - up by more than 90% on the level five years ago.

The charity believes it is a reflection of the times because fewer boys feel it is "wimpy" to ring for help.

Apart from bullying, the main concerns were physical and sexual abuse, the facts of life and serious problems getting on with others in the family.

The charity revealed almost 12,000 boys called between April 2007 and March 2008 - a 94% increase compared to five years ago.

Between April 2002 and March 2003, 6,170 contacted Scotland-based counsellors but it is not known how many boys were from Scotland itself in either time period.

'I feel suicidal'

The proportion of boys calling ChildLine in Scotland had also increased from one in four in 2002 to 2003 to one in three between 2007 and 2008.

Bullying was the top problem with 2,902 boys from across the UK counselled by ChildLine volunteers in Scotland last year. In total 12,568 boys contacted the service on this issue.

Child using a phone
Childline believes new ways need to be found for children to access help

Other main problems for boys counselled by ChildLine in Scotland included physical and sexual abuse and family relationship issues. Calls to the service are confidential.

Elaine Chalmers, head of ChildLine in Scotland, said: "There's still the stigma that boys don't cry, but it may be that there's no longer so much pressure to be macho.

"We're certainly seeing more boys wanting to talk about feeling lonely, sad or isolated than ever before."

Ms Chalmers said the number of boys calling ChildLine feeling lonely, sad and isolated had also "increased five-fold" between the two time periods.

One 15-year-old boy told ChildLine: "Boys at school strangle, punch and kick me, I feel lonely and angry with the teachers who seem to do nothing and I feel suicidal. I've never told anyone before."

Ms Chalmers said: "The report suggests that service providers need alternative and innovative ways to engage with boys and their problems.

"In response, the NSPCC aims to develop the existing ChildLine service to offer additional support through new technologies, such as the web and mobile phones."

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