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About ChildLine

Image of girl holding ChildLine balloonsChildLine is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of nineteen. You can contact a ChildLine counsellor about anything - no problem is too big or too small. Call free on 0800 1111, have a 1-2-1 chat online or send an email.

This page has a list of some of the most common questions people have asked us about contacting ChildLine.


Frequently asked questions:


What is it like to talk to ChildLine?

How can I contact ChildLine?

How does ChildLine work?

Technical questions


What kind of person will I talk to?

ChildLine counsellors are trained staff and volunteers who all have experience of listening and talking to children and young people.

A ChildLine counsellor is someone who:

  • will listen to you and knows it takes courage to contact us
  • is aware of the sorts of problems you might be worried about
  • is genuine, open and friendly
  • won't judge you or put you down
  • is not easily shocked
  • will let you take your time
  • you can trust
  • is supported by a ChildLine Supervisor so they can make sure that you are getting the best help

Counsellors are also human beings with different jobs, families and friends. They may be gay, heterosexual, bisexual, of any ethnicity or religion, have a disability or long term illness. They have all been children and had different experiences of childhood but they will never assume things about your situation or how you may be feeling. The focus will always be you and because of this, counsellors do not talk about themselves or answer personal questions. They are real people who care and want to be there for you.

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What should I say?

It can be hard to talk if you are upset or feeling hurt and you might not know what to say. Your ChildLine counsellor will give you plenty of time and help you as much as possible to talk about what's wrong so that we can support you.

There are a few things that you can do before you call, which might make talking easier:

  • If possible make the call from somewhere safe where you won't be interrupted or overheard.
  • Let the counsellor know if you are finding it hard to talk.
  • If you use a public phone or make the call outside, try and stay somewhere quiet without too much noise. This will help your counsellor hear you properly.
  • You can call at any time, but it might help if you have a think about what you want to say before you call.

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What do I have to tell?

You don’t have to tell us anything that you don’t want to - what you choose to tell us is up to you. The counsellor will ask you some questions to try and understand how you are feeling or to help you talk about it. You don't have to answer them if you don't want to.

If you change your mind and don’t want to carry on talking that’s fine.  You can call back at any time, even if you didn't talk the first time you called. Sometimes it takes a few calls, chats or emails before you start really talking.

When you call us, you are in control. You can end the call at any time. If you want to call back later, that's fine, we are here for you 24 hours a day. The more you talk about what is happening and how it makes you feel, the more we can understand and help you but you are always in control of what you tell us.

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Will ChildLine tell anyone what I say? 

ChildLine is a private and confidential place for you to talk. This means that what you say stays between you and ChildLine. We would only say something if…

  • you ask us to
  • we believe you or someone else’s life is in immediate danger
  • you tell us that you are seriously harming another young person
  • you are being hurt by someone who has a position of trust and access to other children e.g. a teacher or policeman.

We want to keep you safe. However, we also understand the sort of situations you might be in. If we do need to tell somebody, we’ll try and give you as much control over what happens as possible. The last thing we want is to make things worse for you.

Read our confidentiality promise for more information 

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How can I contact ChildLine?

There are a number of ways in which you can contact ChildLine. You have a choice between which one you are most comfortable and confident with. This might change depending on your mood, what you want to talk about or even how much time you have.

Call free on 0800 1111

  • When you ring us your call will be answered by a friendly person on switchboard. They will then direct your call through to a counsellor. The counsellor is there to listen and help you talk about your reason for calling.
  • If the person at switchboard believes you to be in immediate danger they may tell you they are ending the call so you can dial 999 to get emergency support for yourself.
  • Calls are free and confidential and won’t appear on the phone bill, including mobiles. Even if you don't have credit on your mobile phone you can still call us for free.

    Visit the talk page for more information

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1-2-1 chat

  • 1-2-1 chat works like instant messenger – where you can chat with a counsellor online about what’s worrying you.
  • Once you have set up a free ChildLine account, log in to your locker and go to the online chat waiting room.
  • A counsellor will be with you as soon as possible but while you are waiting you can watch videos or play games on the site.
  • After your 1-2-1 chat remember to close your internet browser down so no one will see what you have been looking at.
  • If you want to keep browsing the ChildLine site then you can do this by returning to the homepage.

    Visit the 1-2-1 online chat page.
    You can also read our top tips for using online chat 

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Send us an email

  • To email ChildLine, you will need to sign up to your Locker on the ChildLine website. Unfortunately, you can’t use your own hotmail or gmail address. This is to keep you safe and your emails private.
  • In your Locker, you will find your own ChildLine email inbox. Here you can send a counsellor an email and see your reply.
  • When you want to send us an email or see a reply we have sent, you need to go to the ChildLine email inbox in your Locker.
  • You can access your ChildLine email at any time.
  • We will reply to you as soon as we can, usually this is within 24 hours but at busy times this may take longer. This might mean that if you want to get a quick answer or talk about something with a counsellor that email might not be the best way to do this.

When you talk to ChildLine by calling, emailing, or chatting online we will make a few notes about what you tell us. These will only be seen by ChildLine staff and volunteers. 

Send an email to a ChildLine counsellor 

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ChildLine message boards

  • The message boards are for you and other young people to share information and experiences and find out what other people think.
  • You can support other people with their problems and get help with yours.
  • There are boards you can use for fun stuff and if you would like to post a picture or poem, that would be great too!

    Visit the ChildLine message boards

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 Ask Sam

  • Whether you’re worried about boyfriend/girlfriend problems, want advice on how to stay safe online or support if you or your friends are being bullied, you can ask Sam.
  • Sam reads every letter that comes through. Unfortunately, because of the number of letters we receive we are unable to reply to all of them. 
  • Every week Sam will post a reply to a number of letters, selecting the most popular topics that week so you are bound to find an answer. Sometimes, the counsellors may help out in posting replies - this is so we can answer more letters.
  • If you need to get a quick answer, writing to Sam may not be the best way to get in touch with ChildLine.
  • To chat to a counsellor more quickly, call 0800 1111 or use 1-2-1 chat instead.

    Ask Sam a question or read what other young people have asked

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Are calls free from mobiles?

Yes. Contacting ChildLine is free from landlines, public phones and mobiles. Therefore, you do not need to have credit on your mobile to be able to call us. The only exception to this is if you are calling from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Important – please read

Live in the Channel Islands? Calls may be chargeable from mobiles and the number will appear on your mobile bill. To call us free from the Channel Islands, we advise that you use a landline or phone box.

Live on the Isle of Man? Calls may be chargeable from landlines and the number will appear on the landline bill. To call us free from the Isle of Man, we advise that you use a mobile or phone box.

ChildLine is talking to Ofcom and the phone companies involved to see what can be done to ensure that all calls to ChildLine are free. Remember, you can also contact a counsellor in confidence for free through online chat or email.

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Will the number show up on my phone bill?

Calls to ChildLine don't show up on a BT or cable phone bill.

We have been told that calls to ChildLine won't show up on your mobile phone bill if you use any of these networks: 3, BT Mobile, Fresh, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin or Vodafone. The only exception is if you are calling from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Live in the Channel Islands? The number will appear on your mobile bill. If you are worried about this, we advise that you use a landline or phone box.

Live on the Isle of Man? The number will appear on the landline bill. If you are worried about this, we advise that you use a mobile.

ChildLine is talking to Ofcom and the phone companies involved to see what can be done to make sure that the number doesn’t appear on your phone bill no matter where you are calling from. Remember, you can also contact a counsellor in confidence for free through online chat or email.

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Will I have to wait to talk to a counsellor?

ChildLine works hard to make sure that we are here to help you when you need us. Sometimes it can be busy but please be patient, we care about everyone contacting us and someone will talk to you as soon as possible. You are very important to us.

We would really like to be able to tell you how long you’ll have to wait for a 1-2-1 chat. We know it can be frustrating to wait, when you want to talk to someone. Unfortunately it’s not possible to say how long you will have to wait, because it depends on lots of things, like:

  • how many other people are waiting
  • how many counsellors are working at that time
  • how long other young people need to chat to our counsellors

A 1-2-1 chat also takes longer than a phone call because both you and the counsellor type rather than speak, and this means that it can take a while.

We have looked into trying to give you some idea of the waiting time, but we can’t do this technically at the moment. We will continue to look at ways to solve this problem and apologise for any inconvenience. If you need to speak to someone urgently and can’t wait for a 1-2-1 chat, you might find it easier to phone us on 0800 1111.

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How long can I talk to a counsellor for?

You can talk to ChildLine on the phone on 0800 1111 and online on 1-2-1 chat any time that you want to. There are times though when we get very busy and it might take a while for you to get through.

An average phone call can be approximately 30 minutes. It's usually less than this, but might be more depending on what help you need. A 1-2-1 online chat usually lasts around 40 minutes. We have asked young people who use the service about this, and they have told us that this should be long enough for us to explore what is worrying you, but also allow other young people the chance to talk to us too. You are of course welcome to come back any time that you need to.

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Does ChildLine work differently during the night?

Yes. In order for us to help you during the night, ChildLine offers a slightly different service between midnight and 7.30am in the morning.

You can still contact a counsellor by calling free on 0800 1111 or through 1-2-1 online chat. However, you may find that you are asked a few questions about your safety – where you are and if you feel someone might harm you or you might harm yourself. You don’t need to give us specific details; a simple yes or no will be okay. We have a lot fewer counsellors during these hours compared to the day so we have to make sure someone is available to talk to anyone in immediate danger.

You are still very important to us. If we cannot take your call or chat during the night, we may ask you to try and call back after 7.30am. This allows a counsellor to spend more time with you. Remember you can still email ChildLine, post on the message boards and use Ask Sam anytime.

To find out more about the night service visit the contacting ChildLine at night page

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Will the counsellor give me their name?

Every call to ChildLine is focused on you. To make sure that this is the case counsellors are asked not to share personal details with you. However, counsellors will give you their first name if they think this will help you to feel more comfortable talking to them and if it’s important to you. If you want to know the name of the counsellor you are talking to please ask them.

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Are counsellors scripted?

Calls to ChildLine are not scripted. Every call, chat or email is answered by a real person who cares and wants to support you.

  • All ChildLine counsellors do have the same training - this is to make sure that everyone is prepared to be able to help you.
  • This does mean that counsellors may talk in a similar way or ask similar questions, for example they will ask you how you feel about what is happening for you. This is to make sure that they understand how this affects you and not to make assumptions.
  • You are in control and if there is something you need from the counsellor, or something is not working for you please say. ChildLine is there for you and want to understand what you need from us.

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Can I contact ChildLine in Welsh?

We currently don't offer a full Welsh speaking counselling service. However, we do have a number of Welsh speaking counsellors at ChildLine. If you contact us (by phone or online) and let us know you'd like to speak to someone in Welsh we can arrange a time for you to speak to a Welsh speaking counsellor.

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How do I create an online account?

  • To ensure your privacy, choose a nickname that no-one else knows. Choose a nickname that you don't use anywhere else on the web and does not identify who you are e.g. name, date of birth, where you are from.
  • Please don’t use an inappropriate nickname. If you use a nickname that is rude, vulgar or offensive you will not be able to post on the message board.
    Visit the House Rules for more information
  • Never use any part of your own name or family name when you register for an account.
  • Keep your password private. Don’t give it to anyone, not even a trusted friend.

    Sign up for a free ChildLine account in six easy steps

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Why has my nickname been rejected?

ChildLine is a place where you are free to talk about any subject, even ones that are very personal and might put you at risk. To allow you to do so safely, we take your anonymity very seriously and make sure that nothing you post on the ChildLine website could identify you outside of ChildLine.

If your nickname is one that you use for other message boards, forums or social networking sites, this may identify you to anyone reading your messages. It is really important for your own safety and confidentiality that you choose a different nickname for the ChildLine website.

If you have chosen a nickname which could identify you, like your real name, then we will send an email to your personal inbox to let you know and to ask you to change it. We will also do this if your chosen nickname includes swearwords or something that we think is inappropriate. This may mean that your message board posts or gallery images won’t be accepted until your nickname is changed.

You can find out more about what nicknames aren’t allowed in the House rules  

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Why can’t I log in?

Very rarely, you may find that you no longer have access to your account when you try to log in. The reason for this may be:

  • We are concerned that someone else had access to your account. You may want to think about whether you have ever shared your password with someone, which we strongly advise you not to do. 
  • There may have been some technical problem that has locked your account.
  • You may have forgotten your password. Visit the ‘Forgotten Password link’ under your login page to be put through to a counsellor. You need to remember your username, nickname and the answer to your security questions when you signed up for your account before it will be unlocked.

If you do find you can’t log in to your account, please feel free to create a new account and talk with us again. Please note that we will not be able to access any of the information you might have given us with your old account, so please be patient with us. We will do our best to let you know if we are going to close your account for any reason.

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I don’t live in the UK, why can’t I sign up for a ChildLine account?

ChildLine is a UK based charity and only has limited numbers of counsellors.  We are only able to provide a counselling service to young people in the UK.  This means that only young people in the UK can sign up for an account and use the 1-2-1 chat, email and message boards on the ChildLine website. All young people are welcome to read our advice and use the rest of the website.

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How do I cancel or close my ChildLine account?

If you would like to cancel or close your account on the ChildLine website, please:

  • send us an email through your personal inbox in your locker letting us know you’d like to close it
  • tell your counsellor in a 1-2-1 online chat
  • tell your counsellor when you call us on 0800 1111

We will then send you an email to your personal inbox confirming that you want to close the account. If we don’t hear from you within three days, we will close your account and you will not be able to log in again.

Please note that when you close your account, we can’t delete all your information. ChildLine has to keep a record of all users that have used our service, even if they close their account and don’t contact us anymore. This means that we will keep a record of any emails you have sent us or any contact with a counsellor you have had. These will be saved under your username. We will only know about your real identity if you have given us identifying details about yourself (such as your name, where you live, the name of your school etc.).

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Where can I talk to ChildLine online?

ChildLine.org.uk is the only place online where you can have a 1-2-1 conversation with a ChildLine counsellor. This is a safe space with a team of people working together to make sure every conversation with ChildLine is confidential.

Visit the talk page for the different ways you can contact ChildLine 

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What if I see the ChildLine name or logo somewhere else, can I talk to people on that site too?

Sometimes we share our logo, games and videos with other websites to help more young people find out about ChildLine. You might see a ChildLine game on a gaming site, or some advice from ChildLine on another site for young people. These other sites are helping to spread the word about ChildLine, but they are not able to help people the way ChildLine can, and you should only trust and talk to ChildLine.org.uk.

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Someone messaged me and told me they are a counsellor. What should I do?

Our counsellors will never approach you online and tell you they are counsellors or try to talk to you. If you see someone trying to start 1-2-1 conversations using the ChildLine name anywhere other than ChildLine.org.uk, you should tell us straight away. You can do this by phoning 0800 1111, through 1-2-1 chat online or by sending us an email.

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Where else might I find ChildLine online, and what should I expect to see?

We have started some ChildLine profiles on other sites to help us reach more people who might need someone to talk to.  Here is a list of the other places you might see the ChildLine name online.

  • Facebook.com/ChildLine
    ChildLine has an official Facebook page - it's a great place to get encouraging and inspiring messages that we think are great for sharing.

    Go to our page to find out about:

    - all our latest news
    - our anti-bullying campaign
    - how to make the most of Facebook
    - online safety updates

    Fans of ChildLine can’t post to our timeline because it’s very important that any worries you want to tell us about remain confidential - read more about our confidentiality promise.

    Our Facebook page is moderated but it’s not pre-moderated like the ChildLine message boards. This means that although information can be taken down, you need to be extra careful what you chose to say as everything happens live and can’t be taken down straight away. If anything on the page breaks the house rules it will be deleted as soon as possible.

    Remember that ChildLine counsellors will never contact you on social networks, tell you they are a counsellor or offer to chat to you. You can only contact ChildLine through our phone number or on this site. If anyone approaches you through Facebook saying they are from ChildLine then please let us know straight away.

    Read more about the ChildLine Facebook page

  • YouTube.com/ChildLine
    We have a new YouTube channel where we are putting all of our videos about help and advice, things we’ve been up to and any new competitions we might have. The comments on these videos are moderated, but it’s best to come and talk to us on ChildLine.org.uk if you have a problem you want to talk about.
  • Habbo
    We have a partnership with this site. This means you may occasionally see competitions, parties, quests or other activities on Habbo which use the ChildLine name. We also occasionally hold group discussions with ChildLine counsellors on Habbo, but you will never be offered a 1-2-1 counselling session. If you are approached by someone claiming to be from ChildLine on that site outside of these activities, please let us know straight away.
  • Stardoll
    We also have a partnership with Stardoll. This means you may see competitions, free gift items, videos or live chats on Stardoll which use the ChildLine name. We also occasionally hold discussions with ChildLine staff members and counsellors on Stardoll, but you will never be offered a 1-2-1 counselling session. If you are approached by someone claiming to be from ChildLine on that site outside of these activities, please let us know straight away.
  • Other websites
    You might also see ChildLine on:
    - Twitter.com/childline
    - Childline.tumblr.com
    - Pinterest.com/ChildLine

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Accessibility

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We've put together a few tips and help for you. Please send us a message if you can't find what you're looking for. Or you have a suggestion of something we could include.

Using the keyboard instead of the mouse
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Having difficulty with your keyboard or mouse?
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The site is W3C level A compliant.

 

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