COUNTY NEWS: One year after Paris attacks and Childline still handles hundreds of calls from ‘terrified’ children

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Today marks the one year anniversary of the deadly attacks in Paris, when a gunmen and suicide bombers hit a concert hall, a major stadium, restaurants and bars – and left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.

A year on and the NSPCC’s Childline service are still handling hundreds of calls from terrified children, who are ‘petrified’ about terror attacks happening on their doorstep, it has been revealed.

Children as young as nine fear outbreak of war and attacks on UK soil and have been contacting the service, after suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and insomnia, Childline warns.

NSPCC’s CEO, Peter Wanless, 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 events and it is little wonder that young people are so frightened about terrorism.”

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

He added: “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.”

Since November last year, the NSPCC has handled 660 counselling sessions about terrorism and many told Childline that they were scared of a terror attack hurting their families.

One boy, aged 11, said he was ‘so scared with everything with going on’ and ‘constantly feels anxious’.

He said: “I think that ISIS is going to attack the UK soon and I am really worried that they will get someone in my family. I haven’t been sleeping because it is all I can think about.”

A 14-year-old girl said her anxiety was ‘becoming worse’ after the terrorist attacks.

She said: “I’m really worried something like this could happen in London. I have tried talking to my parents about it but they said I was over-thinking things. I feel as if I’m always on the edge when I leave the house and am always looking over my shoulder.”

The NSPCC confirmed that the children were ‘acutely aware’ of the atrocities worldwide, talking to counsellors about Middle Eastern conflicts, and often mentioning Islamic State.

One in five of the calls were from young people aged 11 or younger.

Girls were twice as likely as boys to contact the service, and 12 to 15-year-olds were most likely to speak to counsellors, a spokesperson confirmed.

The service has seen a surge of calls following terror attacks in Brussels, Orlando, Nice, and Munich, this year – which all triggered a higher volume of contacts.

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, you do not panic them, and you 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, areeing such attacks are frightening and sad, but reassure them that adults are doing everything they can to stop these incidents, a spokesperson confirmed.

This is the first year that the service has specifically recorded contacts about terrorism after the Paris attacks last year – which prompted a surge in calls.

Any young person who is worried can call Childline free and anonymously on 0800 11 11.

Adults who want advice on how to talk to their child about terrorism can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 and can view an online video produced by the NSPCC and The Times, on how to talk to their children about terrorism via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyeVdGvgdS0

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