Childline’s 24-hour confidential online and telephone service provides children and young people across the UK with emotional support.
The information that young people share with Childline almost always remains confidential. However, to ensure the safety of a young person, information is sometimes shared by Childline with another organisation, for example, the emergency services or social care.
This evidence briefing explores young people's experiences of the referral process and what happened afterwards, and considers:
The evidence was gathered through interviews with young people and Childline Supervisors.
Authors: Chloe Gill and Elizabeth Thomas
However, a referral can lead to positive change if handled sensitively and if follow-up support is provided, where needed.
Often, young people felt scared and shocked when an emergency referral happened, but some also felt cared for and that their problems were being taken seriously.
The research highlighted the importance of all adults working in a young person-centred way when supporting young people during and after a referral. This involves listening, showing empathy, and including young people in decisions about what happens.
Some young people told us that after a referral, communication with their families about their problems improved, and they were able to access additional support. However, others felt that nothing had changed, or that the support they were receiving was not helping them.
Please cite as: Gill, C. and Thomas, E. (2022) Childline referrals: what happens next for young people? London: NSPCC.
Our series of posters encourage children to contact Childline if they need to talk.
Find out how young people benefit from using the Childline message boards to support their help-seeking journey.