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ChildLine is launching a major campaign to encourage children to speak out about physical abuse as new figures show a link to self-harm and truancy.
In the West Midlands last year there were 2,632 counselling interactions with a child or young person who spoke about physical abuse. On average in a third of cases a young person is being physically abused by their mother, with similar numbers being abused by their dad.
The vast majority of young people contacting ChildLine about physical abuse were aged between 12 and 15 however, alarmingly 24 per cent were under the age of 11 and a few were as young as 5 years old. At the Birmingham base 21 per cent of children and young people making contact were 11 years and under. A young female contacting a counsellor at the West Midlands base said: ''My mum and dad are hitting me, it's happening quite often and is really painful. I cry all the time. Maybe it's my fault they hit me.''
And new figures from a ChildLine self-selecting survey of 1,730 children and young people found that over 1,300 had suffered some level of abuse. Half of those who had suffered abuse said it had caused them to self-harm with over a quarter confessed to skipping school as a result of being abused.
One case study in the region told Childline ''Over the years, my mum kicked and beat me, throttled me, threw me down the stairs and pushed me into a scolding hot bath. But even though she could be really nasty, she could be loving too. It was just that you'd never know when she was going to flip. For a long time, I accepted what was going on at home as normal. But no child should have to live in fear or on edge in their own home ? that?s the place they should feel safest.''
ChildLine West Midlands Service Manager, Ziv Israeli said: ''We know that physical abuse has a hugely detrimental effect on children's behaviour and education. Children and young people often express their feelings by causing harm to themselves or others. We also know that a child's normal development can be damaged by witnessing or experiencing physical or emotional abuse at a young age. Seeking help as soon as possible can reduce the long term damage of physical abuse.''
Children and young people can contact ChildLine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0800 1111 and at www.childline.org.uk.
If you have concerns about a child or young person, you can call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, text 88858 or visit www.nspcc.org.uk.