The NSPCC's Childline service has counselled hundreds of children and young people who are concerned about the coronavirus outbreak, the charity has revealed.

Debs Davis, Childline service manager for Wales, said: "Common issues children are discussing include anxiety, exacerbated by the disruption of their normal routines due to school closures, as well as the inescapable 24/7 news coverage.

"This is difficult to comprehend as an adult, but it can be even more challenging for a child to process."

Older children had shared concerns about catching coronavirus, concern for family members, and worries of dying, she added.

One young person told Childline: “This virus has brought my anxiety up more than anything else in my life.”

Another said: “Everyone is radicalising it and scaring me to the point I’m scared I may do something to myself and I don’t want to face the world because I’m too scared of the virus.”

Ms Davis said: "We know that some young people don’t get on with their family or feel unsafe at home, and for these young people it’s a particularly challenging time.

"One young person told us 'School is my safe, happy place and no matter how bad things at home got it was almost always somewhere I could trust to be safe or, at least, safer than home'".

Ms Davis said racially charged bullying had been mentioned in some cases, due to coronavirus originating from China.

The charity has offered this advice to parents:

  • Balance helping them to understand the facts while providing emotional support.
  • Be calm, honest and informed when talking to them about news related to coronavirus.
  • Begin the conversation by asking them what they already know about it. Reassure them that you are going to listen to them.
  • When they’ve finished, calmly explain the facts of the situation. It’s important to be honest and tailor what you say to their maturity.
  • Encourage them to use Childline’s online message boards to talk to other young people about how they’re feeling.
  • Allow them to make time for themselves, create a routine to limit the impact having time off can have on things like mood and sleep.

Children and young people can speak to a trained Childline counsellor for free using the Childline website, or by calling 0800 1111.