The most recent data collection covered the period from January to March 2017 inclusive and saw 11,561 contacts which all related to online issues. This was a rise on the previous reporting period (9,431 contacts) and is also up on the same timeframe last year (9,059 contacts).
As in previous reporting periods, cyberbullying remains the issue which helplines are dealing with most often with around 16 per cent of calls relating to this. Calls relating to love, relationships and sexuality was the next most common issue, with 11 per cent of calls focusing on this.
During this reporting period, however, there has been a rise in the number of calls about self-harm and suicide (a rise of one percentage point in both cases) and this may be related to the widespread concern about the Blue Whale Challenge where young people are encouraged to take on a number of challenges which quickly escalate to urging them to self-harm and ultimately commit suicide. Although this has been proved to be a hoax, helplines are very aware that it is having an impact, with some colleagues acknowledging that young people have cut the outline of a whale into their arm. Further information about the Blue Whale Challenge can be found in an article on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.
Again mirroring the previous reporting period, 60 per cent of calls came from females, with 74 per cent of helplines receiving more calls from females than males. This reflects the ongoing challenge of reaching out to boys, which was the topic of a recent online helpline meeting. It was noted that consideration should be given to how boys are used in advertising for helpline services, with the German helpline sharing some specific examples where boys were used in campaigns.
In addition in this reporting period, many helplines shared positive stories of successful collaborations with social network providers, wider industry and law enforcement organisations, so exemplifying the need for multiple stakeholders to work together to help create a safer and better internet for our children and young people.