Cork childline volunteer: 'I got calls from children whose parents were in the middle of lockdown parties' 

Cork childline volunteer: 'I got calls from children whose parents were in the middle of lockdown parties' 
Megan Sarl, Childline Volunteer.Picture: Jim Coughlan

A CHILDLINE volunteer in Cork revealed she received calls from kids during their parent's lockdown parties in the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Megan Sarl from the Cork branch of Childline said that kids are the hidden victims of the pandemic and will require as much support as possible in the upcoming months. 

The charity answered more than 70,000 calls from children during Covid-19 restrictions.

This peaked during the weekend of March 27 when the most severe precautions were introduced.

"Alcohol has been a huge factor," Megan said. 

"I received calls from children whose parents had a lot of people over and were in the middle of lockdown parties. 

Megan Sarl, Childline Volunteer.Picture: Jim Coughlan
Megan Sarl, Childline Volunteer.Picture: Jim Coughlan

"There was a huge drive before the schools even closed in relation to handwashing and protecting yourself. Kids picked up on that and were afraid."

She said that excessive alcohol consumption and domestic abuse came hand in hand with these lifestyles.

"The male figure was usually the one to cause the abuse but in the last three or four years we have seen a huge shift," she said. 

"Now, it is more or less 50/50."

Ms Sarl said men have become more open in talking about domestic abuse.

"I'm not sure if there has been a bigger push on mental health or if people or talking about it more. 

"However, in recent years we're seeing that men can be just as vulnerable as women. These are men in top-notch jobs who might even be running a company. 

"People on the outside might believe he would never find himself in this situation but all he's trying to do is protect his children."

According to Megan, a lot of abuse has been amplified by the pandemic.

"Some kids will ring us and say things like mum had been drinking and flew off the handle again. 

"Drinking at home was a big factor. A lot of the time it's not the physical abuse, it's the emotional abuse and whole aspect of the kids being witness to it. 

"The fact that everyone was confined to one space meant that parents could no longer hide abuse anymore and the children ended up bearing the brunt of that. "

Megan revealed the lengths some children will go to just to make that phone call.

"We get calls from kids as young as seven phoning from behind a bedroom locker or the wardrobe. 

"Sometimes they'll be whispering so softly that we can't hear them. 

"It's very rare that we would hear the abuse in the background. Some kids will hang up the phone if the noise gets too close to them or they'll go on mute until the call goes dead to keep themselves safe."

The volunteer shed light on the many challenges they faced over the last few months.

"A lot of time and effort goes into figuring out who is that safe person they can talk to. 

"That might be a teacher or a best friend. During restrictions it was difficult to empower the child and work out alternative ways to support them. 

"There were a lot of additional worries for children too. Some were missing their grandparents and asking why they couldn't visit them in the nursing home. 

"Others were trying to get their heads around why they couldn't attend a loved one's funeral."

Childline is Ireland's only 24-hour listening service for children and young people. It is free, confidential and non- judgmental, providing support to children across Ireland.

For more information about the service visit https://www.childline.ie/

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