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  • The BRIS Report 2010Let the children speak! And take them seriously!About contacts with authorities, school, mental illness and boys 2010
  • The BRIS-mail, The BRIS-chat, Foras The BRIS-mail provides BRIS Adult Helpline personal answers within – about Children a few days. The BRIS-Chat provides The Children’s Helpline Monday to Friday: real time 1-to-1-chat. – BRIS 116 111 10:00 am – 1:00 pm In the Discussion Forum, – for those up to age 18. which is also on BRIS. 077-150 50 50 se, children and young Monday to Friday: people can communi- 3:00 pM – 9:00 pM cate with each other Saturday, Sunday and holidayS: under the oversight of 3:00 pM – 6:00 pM an adult moderator. 116 111 www.bris.seBRIS´ OfficesBRISKarlavägen 121 BRIS  –  Children’s Rights in Society  –  is  an  NGO,  a  voluntary  organisation with no party political or religious affiliation,  which supports children and young people in distress and is a link bet-SE-115 26 StockholmTel: +46 (0)8-598 888 00 ween children, adults and the community. The core of BRIS’ activities Fax: +46 (0)8-598 888 01 is comprised of the Children’s Helpline – BRIS 116 111, the  BRIS-mail E-mail: and the BRIS-chat, to which children and young people up to the age BRIS region Nord of  18  can  turn  anonymously  and  free-of-charge  when  they  need  sup-(Northern Region)Kungsgatan 36 port from an adult. BRIS also works as an opinion maker and referral SE-903 25 Umeå organisation to increase adults’ respect for children as individuals. BRIS Tel: +46 (0)90-203 65 10Fax: +46 (0)90-203 65 11 works for the full application of the principles established in the UN E-mail: Convention of the Rights of the Child. BRIS uses its collective know-BRIS region Väst ledge of the situation of children and young people to inform, influence (Western Region) and create opinion in children’s rights issues at various levels. BRIS also Hvitfeldtsgatan 14SE-411 20 Göteborg accepts calls from adults who need someone to talk to about their own Tel: +46 (0)31-750 11 30 or other’s children.Fax: +46 (0)31-750 11 31E-mail: bris was founded in 1971 and is organised as one national and five re-BRIS region Mitt gional associations. Offices are located in Malmö, Göteborg, Norrköping, (Central Region) Stockholm and Umeå. BRIS’ activities are based on volunteer work and Karlavägen 121SE-115 26 Stockholm financial grants and donations from both private and public donors. BRIS tEl: +46 (0)8-598 888 10 has a total of over 600 volunteer workers who man the Children’s Helpline Fax: +46 (0)8-598 888 11E-mail: – BRIS 116 111, the BRIS-mail and the BRIS-chat. These volunteers are  recruited, trained and supervised by employed BRIS personnel. The BRIS BRIS region Syd(Southern Region) Adult Helpline – about Children is usually manned by employed BRIS Östra Rönneholmsv. 7 representatives and costs as much as a regular phone call.SE-211 47 MalmöTel: +46 (0)40-690 80 70Fax: +46 (0)40-690 80 71E-mail: BRIS.syd@BRIS.seBRIS region Öst(Eastern Region)Korsgatan 2, Hus ESE-602 33 NorrköpingPostal address: BRISSE-601 86 NorrköpingTel: +46 (0)11-440 05 50Fax: +46 (0)11-440 05 51E-mail: The BRIS Report 2010 2
  • The BRIS Report 2010 BRIS believes that the lack of knowledgeis often greater thanthe lack of resources.There are alsotendencies to applyresources to a child’scase only when thingshave gone so far thatthe individual is athreat to society andhim or herself. illuStration liSa j karlSSonThis BRIS-report is not atranslation of the entire Swedishreport. With regard to this year’s 4 Let the children speak! 21 Not being good enough as one isthemes and the expectedreaders, we have chosento translate main articles 7 Summary statistics 2009. 24 Reflecting boys seek concrete advice 14 concerning contacts with Insecurity 26 authorities, school, mental the worst BRIS is needed!illness and boys. 17 Truancy 28 116 111 19 Ignorance makes bullying worse Publisher BRIS, Barnens Rätt I Samhället Text Maja Aase, Åsa Lekberg, Cecilia Nauclér, (Children’s Rights In Society Pernilla Rönnlid and Åsa Wallentin Address BRIS-tidningen, Karlavägen 121, English translation Semantix SE-115 26 Stockholm, Sweden Photo Johan Bergling, Johan Gunséus, Martin Editorial committee Magntorn, Anna Rehnberg and Stina Svanberg PG 901504-1 Cecilia Nauclér, Jenny Ingårda, Peter Illustrations Thomas Fröhling, Lisa J Karlsson, Irgens, Karin Johansson, My Zinderland, Yusuke Nagano and Lena Sjöberg/Söderberg Eva Stenelund and Eva Waltré Agentur Editor Cecilia Nauclér/Peter Irgens Responsible editor Göran Harnesk, Secretary Ad Helena Lunding/Kristina Schollin-Borg General, BRIS The BRIS Report 2010 3
  • The BRIS Report 2010 Not only do children have the right to express themselves (under Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child), it is also a prerequisite for children’s development and mental health. Unfortunately, many adults lack the ability to see and interact with children, especially vulnerable children, and the lack of knowledge is often greater than the lack of resources.Let thechildren take themspeak! seriously! And briS liStEnS to tens of thousands of children every  Bullying is something that children themsel- year. And here, I mean really listens. BRIS never in- ves ask BRIS to push as an issue. In a web survey  terviews the children who contact us, but rather our  conducted in late autumn 2009, we asked child- aim and objective is for each individual child to con- ren what issue they thought BRIS should emp- trol the contact with us him or herself. They say what  hasize for the 2010 election and the single most  they need to talk about, or get help with, right then.  common answer was “school” and “issues of bul- Why do we do so? Why does BRIS not control  lying”. BRIS takes the children seriously and we  the contact with the child and conduct an inter- will  emphasize  issues  concerning  bullying  and  view? Why do we let them talk, e-mail or chat  other issues during the 2010 election year.  about anything?  One consequence of not being seen or listened  Because all children need to be met and listened  to in school is that the child quits going to school.  to based on their own individual needs. Only then  BRIS encounters children who have not been in  can trust be built, and only then will the child also  school  for  several  months,  sometimes  longer.  dare to ultimately talk about what is really difficult  These  are  vulnerable  children,  whose  already  and troubling. Consequently, BRIS can find out  low self-esteem has been further degraded by the  about the child’s real situation, and only then can  adults not acting and taking them seriously, with  we also provide help and support.  serious implications for the child.  A child who is not permitted to speak his or  We  meet  children  who  are  seeking  our  help  her mind will become dependent and silent in  because they were unable to get help from the ca- the long term. His or her capacity to contribute  ring and protecting bodies of society. Nor have  to society will be strongly diminished. Not liste- they been listened to or taken seriously. We also  ning is the same as repressing and violating and  encounter children who, for various reasons, have  is a way of saying to the child that what he or she  been put into placement by society and contact us  feels and is trying to communicate has no value.  because they do not have a single adult to talk to. Every  child  placed  in  care  can  be  seen  as  a  Consequences failure on the part of society, but the child’s best  Every day, BRIS sees examples of children not  interests must always be the first priority and in  being allowed to express themselves. We meet,  the placement of a child, the adults must have the  for example, children who are subjected to seri- expertise to understand the child’s situation and  ous bullying in school, but are not taken seriously  the child’s individual needs. Every placed child  when they try to get help from school staff. Not  should  consequently  have  individual  contact  being heard when he or she is subjected to serious  with a dedicated professional adult who listens  insult exacerbates the child’s victimisation.  and  safeguards  the  child’s  needs  and  can  esta- The BRIS Report 2010 4
  • The BRIS Report 2010 Foto johan bergling photo johan bergling”BRIS demands greater expertise in the needs and development of List of demandschildren, especially vulnerable children, among all those who interactwith children,” says Göran Harnesk. BRIS Report 2010 blish the trust that the child needs.  BRIS also sees a negative impact on children’s  LACK OF KNOWLEDGE IS GREATER mental health when they cannot express them- THAN LACK OF RESOURCES selves. Children who are doing poorly mentally,  do  not  like  to  talk  about  it,  which  makes  the  • BRIS demands that the social services problem  fundamentally  difficult  to  manage.  If  and child health centres have specialist the child is still not listened to, it is not uncom- expertise to meet vulnerable children. mon for him or her to also become the bearer of  BRIS also demands that all professional groups  a  negative  secret  and  the  child’s  mental  health  that work with children receive training in child  worsens, without anyone being aware of it.  development and in seeing and meeting children.  Receiving  support  early  on  is  extremely  im- portant in cases of mental illness, and a prerequisite  • BRIS demands the right of all children to for this is that the children dare to say how they are  individual discussions with caring and doing. The children must be allowed to speak!  protective bodies such as the social In our contacts with children and young pe- services and child and adolescent ople, we can see that many adults lack knowledge  psychiatric services. about  children’s  needs  and  child  development,    Today, it happens far too often that victimised  even though they meet children every day. Far  children are given discussions with caring and  too often, children tell us about adults who have  protective bodies in the presence of their guardians,  not dared to listen or have not taken what the  which means that the children do not dare say  child says seriously.  what they have been subjected to.  BRIS believes that the lack of knowledge is  often greater than the lack of resources. There are  • BRIS demands that all schools use also tendencies to apply resources to a child’s case  evidence-based anti-bullying methods. only when things have gone so far that the indi-   Many of the anti-bullying methods used in schools  vidual is a threat to society and him or herself.  today lack evaluation and the effects of them are conse- More knowledge is needed among everyone who  quently uncertain. Since bullying results in serious,  meets children in terms of recognising early signs  long-term implications for the person subjected to  that the child is not doing well. These adults also  it, schools must effectively and pro-actively combat  need knowledge in interacting with children for  bullying with evidence-based methods.  the child to dare to ask for help if he or she is  having a difficult time.    The BRIS Report 2010 5
  • The BRIS Report 2010 The BRIS Report 2010 6
  • statisticsSummarystatisticsilluStrationS Thomas Fröhling,Lena Sjöberg/Söderberg Agentur 2009 In 2009, BRIS had 21,611 supportive contacts with children and young people, including calls to the Children’s Helpline, e-mails to the BRIS-mail and chat sessions on the BRIS-chat. The BRIS Report 2010 7
  • statisticsNumber of contactsTotal number of contacts 2009 2008 2007 Supportive 21,611 21,848 21,401 Other 56,436 59,298 80,133 Total 78,047 81,146 101,534Supportive contacts by channel Children’s Helpline 1,838 No BRIS-mail 8.50% BRIS-chat 7,440 No 12,333 No 34.40% 57.10%Total number of supportive contacts 21.611Supportive child contacts 2000-2009 Year Children’s BRIS- BRIS- Total Helpline mail chat number 2000 17,431 608 18,039 2001 17,150 2,208 19,358 2002 18,348 4,675 23,023 2003 16,008 6,036 22,044 2004 14,450 7,683 22,133 2005 10,778 8,459 19,237 2006 11,588 9,685 21,273 2007 11,551 9,797 53 21,401 2008 13,014 8,029 805 21,848 2009 12,333 7,440 1,838 21,611 Various channels Availability The  largest  change  in  BRIS’  suppor- During  the  year,  601,916  attempts  were  tive channels is that the BRIS-chat expe- made  to  call  the  Children’s  Helpline,  an  rienced explosive growth during the year.  increase of 5.7 percent compared with the  The  number  of  contacts  more  than  dou- year  before.  Of  the  attempts  made,  87  bled,  from  805  chat  sessions  in  2008  to  percent  or  524,725  attempts  were  made  1,838 chat sessions in 2009. One reason for  during the opening hours of the Children’s  this may be that the opening hours for the  Helpline.  BRIS-chat were extended during the year,  The number of supportive calls on the  and as a result, more children were able to  Children’s  Helpline  decreased  somewhat  contact BRIS through the BRIS-chat.  compared with 2008. One reason for this  decrease may be that the average time spent  in each call was somewhat longer in 2009  than previous years.  BRIS has the goal that a child should  not  have  to  wait  more  than  3-4  days  for  a response e-mail from BRIS. In 2008, it  took an average of 57 hours for a child to  receive a response. However, this time de- creased during 2009 when the average wait  was 51 hours.  The BRIS Report 2010 8
  • statisticsMost common contact topicsTHE 20 MOST COMMON CONTACT TOPICS 2009 2008TOPIC No. % of % of total No. % of % of total topics no. of topics no. of noted contacts noted contactsFriends 5,984 8.8% 27.7% 4,981 8.0% 22.8%Fear/anxiety 5,243 7.7% 24.3% 4,424 7.1% 20.2%School 4,931 7.2% 22.8% 3,540 5.7% 16.2%Family conflicts 3,983 5.9% 18.4% 4,146 6.7% 19.0%Love 3,476 5.1% 16.1% 3,397 5.5% 15.5%Loneliness 3,444 5.1% 15.9% 3,168 5.1% 14.5%Bullying 3,051 4.5% 14.1% 3,008 4.9% 13.8%Other mental illness 2,112 3.1% 9.8% 2,038 3.3% 9.3%Identity development 2,058 3.0% 9.5% 1,826 3.0% 8.4%Sorrow 1,998 2.9% 9.2% 1,977 3.2% 9.0%Sex 1,940 2.9% 9.0% 1,736 2.8% 7.9%Physical abuse 1,897 2.8% 8.8% 1,857 3.0% 8.5%Living arrangements 1,890 2.8% 8.7% 1,611 2.6% 7.4%Existential/life issues 1,834 2.7% 8.5% 2,010 3.2% 9.2%Body/appearance 1,828 2.7% 8.5% 1,584 2.6% 7.3%Leisure time 1,631 2.4% 7.5% 1,084 1.8% 5.0% 2009 2008Sexual abuse/molestation 1,571 2.3% 7.3% 1,423 2.3% 6.5% Total number topics 68,050 61,894Stress 1,531 2.2% 7.1% 1,293 2.1% 5.9% notedSuicide/thoughts of suicide 1,515 2.2% 7.0% 1,798 2.9% 8.2% Total number of 21,611 21,848Divorced parents 1,499 2.2% 6.9% 1,464 2.4% 6.7% contacts Most common contact topics ted is divided by the total number of topics  Increases and decreases Every time BRIS has a supportive phone  noted, which for 2009 is 68,050. In a table  – contact topics call, e-mail or chat session, it is registered  that shows the proportions that each topic  The distribution of contact topics in 2009  as a supportive contact in BRIS’ database.  comprised of the total number of noted to- is somewhat similar to that for 2008, but  After  each  contact,  the  volunteer  invol- pics, the total of these proportions will be  the figures changed some for some topics. ved documents what different topics were  100 percent. The  contact  topics  that  increased  the  covered in the contact. A call, an e-mail  2.  The  second  answers  the  following  most in 2009 are “friends” and “fear/anx- or a chat session rarely concerns only one  question:  “What proportion of BRIS’ sup- iety”, as well as “school”. topic. On average, each contact covers th- portive contacts concerned this topic in par- Friends increased from 4,981 contacts  ree topics.  ticular?” in 2008 to 5,984 contacts in 2009.  For example, if a child calls BRIS and  The  answer  to  this  question  indicates  Fear/anxiety increased from 4,424 con- says that he or she is nervous about his/her  how  many  of  BRIS’  supportive  contacts  tacts to 5,243 contacts in 2009.  marks in school, the call is registered as a  were  about  this  specific  topic.  To  arrive  School increased from 3,540 contacts to  contact concerning two topics: school and  at this figure, the number of times a cer- 4,931 contacts in 2009.  fear/anxiety. tain topic was noted is divided by the total  “Stress” is a less frequent contact topic,  As a result of this, the statistics on the con- number of supportive contacts, which for  which however increased sharply in 2009,  tact topics can be read in two different ways: 2009 is 21,611.  from 1,293 contacts in 2008 to 1,531 con- 1. The first answers the following ques- In a table that shows the proportions of  tacts.  tion:  “What proportion of the topics noted BRIS’ supportive contacts that concerned  An  area  that  decreased  is  “suicide/ was about this topic in particular?” each  topic,  the  sum  of  these  proportions  thoughts  of  suicide”,  which  went  from  The  answer  to  this  question  indicates  will  be  more  than  100  percent  because  1,798 contacts in 2008 to 1,515 in 2009.  how many of the topics noted were about  each individual supportive contact can co- The topic “existential and life issues” also  this specific topic. To arrive at this figure,  ver several different topics. decreased, from 2,010 contacts in 2008 to  the number of times a certain topic was no- 1,834 contacts in 2009. The BRIS Report 2010 9
  • statisticsGender & AgeGender distribution 10 most common topics for boys Gender of No % Average age Topic No. of boys % of topics % of total no. of the child 14.4 noted for boys contacts w/boys Girl 16,902 78.8% School 1,170 8.70% 25.8% Boy 4,536 21.2% Average age/gender Friends 1,149 8.50% 25.3%Number of contacts where the child’s Bullying 963 7.10% 21.2%gender was apparent 21.438 Gender Average age Fear/anxiety 861 6.40% 19.0% Girl 14.5 Loneliness 704 5.20% 15.5% Boy 14.2 Love 682 5.10% 15.0% Family conflicts 590 4.40% 13.0% Sex 583 4.30% 12.9% Leisure time 535 4.00% 11.8% Physical abuse 485 3.60% 10.7% Number of contact topics noted for boys 13,469 Number of boys who contacted BRIS 4,536 10 most common topics for girls Topic No. of girls % of topics % of total no. of noted for girls contacts w/girls Friends 4,797 8.9% 28.4% Fear/anxiety 4,338 8.0% 25.7% School 3,722 6.9% 22.0% Family conflicts 3,369 6.2% 19.9% Love 2,788 5.2% 16.5% Loneliness 2,710 5.0% 16.0% Bullying 2,042 3.8% 12.1% Other mental illness 1,857 3.4% 11.0% Sorrow 1,676 3.1% 9.9% Identity development 1,609 3.0% 9.5% Number of contact topics noted for girls 54,060 Number of girls who contacted BRIS 16,902 Gender and age Gender distribution - Contact topics Girls  are  in  the  majority  in  contacting  Contacts  about  girls  most  often  concern  BRIS,  and  this  difference  between  boys  friends, fear/anxiety and school. In cont- and girls has grown since 2008. In 2009,  rast to contacts about boys, it is relatively  the  girls  accounted  for  80 percent of the  common,  however,  that  contacts  about  contacts  with  BRIS  and  the  boys  for  20  girls concern sorrow and other mental ill- percent. ness.  The average age increased marginally in  Contacts  about  boys  most  often  con- 2009, from 14.3 in 2008 to 14.4 in 2009.  cern  school,  friends  and  bullying.  The  From the 2009 figures, it can also be noted  topics  sex  and  leisure  time  are  examples  that the difference between boys and girls  of topics where the proportion of boys is  is somewhat small with regard to average  relatively high compared with the propor- age, where the average for the girls was 14.2  tion of girls. years and for boys it was 14.5. The BRIS Report 2010 10
  • statisticsLiving arrangements & topics10 most common topics – Divorce (Living w/ lone mother, 12 most common topics – Children in placementlone father, both parents alternately or in stepfamily) Topic No % of Comparison: % of Comparison: Topic No % of topics Comparison: % of no. of Comparison: topics % of topics no. of % of no. of noted – % of topics contacts – % of no. of noted – noted – total contacts contacts – Children in noted – total Children in contacts – Divorce – Divorce total placement placement total Family conflicts 1,332 8.8% 5.9% 36.2% 18.4% Divorced parents 1,216 8.0% 2.2% 33.1% 6.9% Living arrangements 242 9.1% 2.8% 43.2% 8.7% Fear/anxiety 1,050 6.9% 7.7% 28.6% 24.3% Fear/anxiety 191 7.2% 7.7% 34.1% 24.3% Loneliness 875 5.8% 5.1% 23.8% 15.9% Family conflicts 161 6.1% 5.9% 28.8% 18.4% Living 850 5.6% 2.8% 23.1% 8.7% Loneliness 156 5.9% 5.1% 27.9% 15.9% arrangements Contacts with 139 5.2% 1.7% 24.8% 5.3% Friends 845 5.6% 8.8% 23.0% 27.7% authorities School 843 5.5% 7.2% 22.9% 22.8% Other mental illness 106 4.0% 3.1% 18.9% 9.8% Physical abuse 596 3.9% 2.8% 16.2% 8.8% Sexual abuse/ 105 4.0% 2.3% 18.8% 7.3% molestation Sorrow 527 3.5% 2.9% 14.3% 9.2% Physical abuse 104 3.9% 2.8% 18.6% 8.8% Bullying 444 2.9% 4.5% 12.1% 14.1% School 104 3.9% 7.2% 18.6% 22.8%Total number of topics noted in divorce 15,204 Friends 102 3.8% 8.8% 18.2% 27.7%Total number of contacts in divorce 3,677 Self-destructiveness 97 3.7% 2.0% 17.3% 6.3%Total number of topics noted 68,050 Suicide/thoughts 94 3.5% 2.2% 16.8% 7.0%Total number of contacts 21,611 of suicide Total number of topics noted for children in placement (where it has come forth that the child lives in a foster home, at a treatment centre or the like) 2,650 Total number of contacts for children in placement 560Living arrangements Topics – Divorce Topics – Children in placementSince  the  discussion  method  BRIS  uses  Family conflicts comprise the most com- If a contact concerns a child who lives in a in the contacts with children means that  mon topic involving children who live with  foster home, treatment centre or the like, what the child says is the main focus, the  a lone mother, with a lone father, with both  the contact is most often about the child’s child is not asked any questions about his  parents alternately or in a stepfamily. Di- living arrangements. Family conflicts are or her living situation. This means that in  vorced parents are also a common topic in  also common in this group, as are issues many cases, just over half of all contacts,  these contacts, as are fear/anxiety and lo- concerning  fear/anxiety.  A  large  propor-the child’s living situation does not come  neliness. The fact that 596 contacts about  tion  of  contacts  concerning  children  in forth. This makes it difficult to comment  children from these kinds of living arrang- placement  are  also  about  contacts  with on the distribution with regard to the li- ements  were  about  physical  abuse  is  also  authorities and sexual abuse/molestation. ving situation of the children who contact  worth noting. Contacts  about  self-destructiveness  and BRIS.  suicide or thoughts of suicide are also re- However, one of the factors that is ap- latively common where children in place-parent in BRIS’  documentation is  which  ment are concerned.topics children with a certain living situa-tion contact BRIS about. The BRIS Report 2010 11
  • statistics10 most common topics – Nuclear family 10 most common topics – Living on one’s own Topic No. % of topics Comparison: % of no. of Comparison: Topic No. % of topics Comparison: % of no. of Comparison: noted – % of topics contacts % of no. of noted – % of topics contacts % of no. of Nuclear noted – total – Nuclear contacts – Living on noted – total – Living on contacts – family family total one’s own one’s own total Family conflicts 1,498 8.9% 5.9% 30.3% 18.4% Fear/anxiety 128 8.4% 7.7% 35.0% 24.3% Friends 1,338 8.0% 8.8% 27.0% 27.7% Loneliness 120 7.9% 5.1% 32.8% 15.9% Fear/anxiety 1,333 8.0% 7.7% 26.9% 24.3% Pregnancy 80 5.3% 1.0% 21.9% 3.1% School 1,297 7.7% 7.2% 26.2% 22.8% Living arrang- 73 4.8% 2.8% 19.9% 8.7% Loneliness 920 5.5% 5.1% 18.6% 15.9% ements Bullying 872 5.2% 4.5% 17.6% 14.1% Sexual abuse/ 73 4.8% 2.3% 19.9% 7.3% molestation Physical abuse 657 3.9% 2.8% 13.3% 8.8% School 71 4.7% 7.2% 19.4% 22.8% Love 542 3.2% 5.1% 10.9% 16.1% Other mental illness 69 4.5% 3.1% 18.9% 9.8% Sorrow 513 3.1% 2.9% 10.4% 9.2% Existential/life issues 69 4.5% 2.7% 18.9% 8.5% Leisure time 479 2.9% 2.4% 9.7% 7.5% Family conflicts 62 4.1% 5.9% 16.9% 18.4%Total number of topics noted in nuclear family (where it has come forth that the child Friends 60 4.0% 8.8% 16.4% 27.7%lives in a nuclear family) 16,761 TTotal number of topics noted in living on one’s own (where it has comeTotal number of contacts in nuclear family 4,952 forth that the child lives on his/her own) 1,518 Total number of contacts in living on one’s own 366Topics – Nuclear family Topics – Living on one’s ownOf all contacts where the child’s living si- BRIS is for all children up to and inclu-tuation  has  been  documented,  it  is  most  ding the age of 18, and among these child-common that the child lives in a nuclear fa- ren, there are many who have moved to a mily. As a result of this, there are somewhat  place of their own. In the contacts about large similarities between the frequency of  children  who  have  this  particular  living various  topics  concerning  children  from  situation, contacts about fear/anxiety and nuclear  families  and  the  frequency  for  loneliness are the most common. It is also BRIS’ total number of supportive contacts  worth noting that contacts about children with children. However, one deviation is  living on their own often concern pregnan-that  family  conflicts  comprise  the  most  cy, housing and sexual abuse/molestation.common topic of contacts about children from nuclear families. The BRIS Report 2010 12
  • statistics Discussion Forum 10 most common categories on the Discussion Forum Total number of submissions Category No % to the Discussion Forum Love 7,114 24,4% 29,178 Being young 5,478 18.8% Emotions 4,279 14.7% Discussion Forum by gender The Family 2,729 9.4% No % Violence and abuse 2,524 8.7% Girl 26,565 91.3% Friends 2,267 7.8% Boy 2,544 8.7% What makes you happy? 1,706 5.8% Number of submissions where the child’s gender School 1,684 5.8% is apparent 29,109 Bullying 1,313 4.5% Punishment in school 84 0.3% Approved submissions Total number of submissions 29,178 No Approved 26,814 Other 2,364 Other submissions include the submissions refused or deletedDiscussion Forum things with each other, but in contrast to The steady increase in the number of pu- the BRIS-mail and the BRIS-chat where blished  submissions  to  the  BRIS  Discus- the child can write about whatever he or sion  Forum  that  has  continued  since  the  she chooses, it is BRIS that decides what forum was launched appears to have shif- categories the children can make submis-ted  to  a  stabilisation  in  2009.  In  2009,  sions on in the Discussion Forum.there were 26,814 published submissions,  The  three  categories  where  the  most which is a small decrease from 2008 when  submissions  were  made  in  2009  were 27,245 submissions were published. “Love” with more than 7,000 submissions,  Looking at the gender distribution on  “Being  young”  with  nearly  5,500  sub-the Discussion Forum, one can note that  missions, and “Feelings” with more than the proportion of girls is even larger here  4,200 submissions. This means that more than  it  is  for  the  number  of  contacts  by  than half of all submissions were made in phone, e-mail and chat. A whole 91 percent  one of these three categories.of the submissions sent to the forum were  The remaining submissions were made sent by girls, while the boys accounted for  in  a  total  of  eight  categories,  including 9 percent of the submissions. “The  Family”,  “Violence  and  abuse”  and  In  the  Discussion  Forum  at,  “Friends”. children  and  young  people  can  discuss  The BRIS Report 2010 13
  • statistics contacts with authoritiesInsecurity tExt photo Maja Aase Martin Magntornthe worst The BRIS Report 2010 14
  • contacts with authorities The BRIS Report 2010 The children’s quotations from the support services in this report are authentic, but certain information has been altered to secure that no child could be identified.Many children who contact BRIS are very dissatisfied with the “What do social services do? What do social services actu-social services and Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services. ally do?””They talk about their innermost feelings, but do not get the help E-mail from a 16-year-old girlthey need and feel abandoned,” says Helén Malmberg, BRIS “Who can you talk with aboutRepresentative, BRIS South in Malmö. “And children who have how you really feel? Without your parents having to findbeen put in placement by society say that they have seldom been out? Can’t you just be allowed to talk, that’s what I need!”told of the reason for their placement.” Girl, age 14 “i really don’t want to go to social services about this! i don’t want someone that doesn’t take me seriously to find out about my problemsF or thiS yEar’S  bris  Report,  Helén  Malmberg  conducted  an  in-depth review of documented contacts bris had  discussion sessions, but say they only get  medication. What the children want is to  talk, that talking will be the healing part. at home...” E-mail from a 13-year-old girl “Is there anyone in this countrywith  children  and  young  people  in  the  that is bound by confidentia-past year. She reviewed what the children  Children in placement find it dif- lity? Every time I’m going to gosay by e-mail, chat and on the Discussion  ficult to influence matters and talk with somebody, they always start by saying: we’reForum about their contacts with authori- Children who get in touch with BRIS and  bound by confidentiality andties, including the social services and bup,  who in various ways are subject to inter- this stays between us. Whichthe Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Ser- vention under the Care of Young Persons  makes me feel safe. But at the end of the talk, they say:vices.  (Special  Provisions)  Act  (LVU)  say  that  we have to take this further “The  children  rarely  contact  us  when  they have very little influence over their si- to your parents or somethingthings  are  good.  Instead,  they  contact  tuation. They are not aware of what rights  similar... I hardly dare talk with an adult now... because of allus when they have problems. This is im- they have. They call BRIS and ask about  this, because when I was littleportant  to  remember.  But  what  comes  basic information, such as why a certain  I talked to somebody fromforth is a negative image of the authorities  decision has been made or how a review  child psychiatry services, and I trusted them, until I found out– the children feel abandoned,” she says. can work. that my dad knew everything Children  are  mainly  disappointed  by  “Those who are affected the most know  and he was not happy... sinceadults not acting. A 14-year-old girl wri- the least,” says Helén Malmberg. then I haven’t dared talk with anyone, or trust any adults,tes in a submission to the bris Discussion  Some children also do not want to con- the only thing I’ve said toForum: “I’ve been abused ever since I was tinue living with their family. They do not  adults is hi, bye.”6 and have reported it, but no one has done feel protected after having told of physical  E-mail from a 15-year-old girlanything. Have talked to social services and and sexual abuse. They want and hope to  “don’t tell me to go to socialnobody cares. Help!!” be able to move somewhere else, perhaps  services again, i’ve heard that “What they want above all is to be liste- to a foster home. before and also been therened to,” says Helén Malmberg. “But when  Many  children  contact  BRIS  to  tell  but i’ll never do that again. Nothing ever happens theretime  passes  and  nothing  happens,  they  about  their  experiences  and  feelings.  and you end up dealing with itfeel that they cannot get help from social  Some want BRIS to contact the authori- yourself”services. This leads to them falling silent  ties, such as social services or Child and  Chat session with a 15-year-old boyand  resigning  themselves  to  their  situa- Adolescent Psychiatric Services; a decision  “Nobody took it seriously.....tion, which may have become even worse.”  that should be carefully thought through,  I’ve been abused ever since I In the contact with Child and Adoles- according to Helén Malmberg. The child- was 6 and have reported it butcent  Psychiatry  Services,  some  children  ren  must  abandon  their  anonymity  and  no one has done anything, have talked to social servicesare  afraid  that  nobody  will  understand  provide  their  identity  when  BRIS  takes  and nobody cares help!!!”how  they  feel.  The  children  want  more  on such an assignment. Girl, age 14 The BRIS Report 2010 15
  • contacts with authorities The BRIS Report 2010 “We  cannot,  after  all,  decide  what  services, things will get even worse for you.” social services will do, but we can defi- “One  cannot  forget  that  Child  and  nitely explain our perspective and speak  Adolescent Psychiatric Services, for in- on behalf of the child. The contact bet- stance, are obliged to forward the infor- ween BRIS and the child continues until  mation on in some cases. If a child is in  the child feels that he or she has received  distress or if there is a risk that the child  the help and support needed.”  hurts him or herself, Psychiatric Services  must file a report with social services.” On  the  BRIS  Discussion  Forum,  Children talk about trust the children often help each other and  According  to  Helén  Malmberg,  inse- provide  support  and  advice.  Someone  curity in the contact with authorities is  writes  a  main  submission  and  others  the  worst  factor  for  answer. For example,  the children. A child,  a  16-year-old  boy  who has contacted an  One cannot advises  a  teenage  authority  and  wants  forget that girl who is abused at  to  talk  about  his  or  Child and Adolescent home to move: “I mo- her problems, does so  ved from my old man in trust. This is often  Psychiatric Services, and things are a lot a  large  step  for  the  for instance, are easier now.” Topic No % of total no. % of total of topics noted no. of child  to  take  and  the  obliged to forward Helén  Malmberg  contacts child  might  not  want  the information on is  pleased  that  the  Contacts with 1,143 1.7% 5.3% his  or  her  parents  to  children  encourage  find  out  what  he  or  in some cases. authorities each other not to give Total number of topics noted 68,050 she  said.  The  child  up,  to  contact  social Total number of contacts 21,611 may have revealed the family’s secret to  services again and again, and not to lose Contacts with authorities a  school  counsellor  or  social  services,  hope: it is possible to change one’s life.2005-2009 and feel that he or she has been promised  “Seeing the exchange between them  Year No both  help  and  confidentiality.  But  sud- is  a  true  pleasure.  Our  children  and  2005 279 denly, the parents nonetheless know what  young people have incredible resources.  2006 306 the child said. The mother and father of- They are amazingly wise.”  2007 459 ten disapprove of the disclosure and can  – Det är en ren glädje att se utbytet  2008 834 2009 1,143 then  become  even  more  aggressive  and  dem emellan. Det finns oerhört stora re- threaten the child: “If you don’t say that surser hos våra barn och ungdomar. De Contacts with authorities by gender everything is fine next time you talk to social är fantastiskt kloka.   Barnets kön No. of contacts Proportion of contacts Girl 943 83.2% Boy 190 16.8%Number of contacts about Contacts with authorities wherethe child’s gender was apparent 1,133 Average age Average age for – Contacts with contacts about authorities Contacts with Girl 14.8 authorities Boy 13.2 14.5THEME – CONTACTS WITH AUTHORITIESOf the 1,143 contacts that concernedcontacts with authorities, nearly12 percent were also about livingarrangements. A nearly equalproportion, just over 11 percent, wasalso about legal issues.It is also worth noting that slightlymore than 8 percent of the contactsabout contacts with authorities alsoconcerned neglect and just over 7percent were about physical abuse. The BRIS Report 2010 16
  • school The BRIS Report 2010Long-term absenteeism from schoolis often due to a valid reason. Manychildren contact BRIS regarding long-term absenteeism and it is more oftena question of them wanting to go toschool, but being unable to. tExt Åsa Lekberg photo Anna RehnbergTruancy “School anxiety. Oh, I can’t take it anymore! Now it’s almost been a year and a half that I’ve struggled to go to school, with a lump in my throat all day long. Did my best, never good enough, never satisfied, can’t do better, have to do better, oh I’m losing it, no have to struggle on, can’t give up, no it’s impossible, I can’t, yeah I have to, I can’t cope anymore, oh how much ofi a failure can you be! Finally, havE bEEn Struck by how tough many feel that  Several causes of truancy you can’t cope anymore, it is to go into the school building. Depression  Problems of bullying may also be the underly- no matter how much youand long-term absenteeism from school are rela- ing cause for children to skip school and many  want to. Yeah, I WANT to be motivated to study, happy,ted,”  says  Maria  Cederlund,  BRIS  Representa- express a lack of belief in the future, goals and  smart, for life to go well. Oftive at BRIS West. a sense of meaning with their lives, which leads  course I do. Of course I want Children who skip individual lessons to ins- them to opt to stay home. Days turn into weeks  to want to go to school and learn. Of course I do. But Itead do something fun with friends rarely con- and  weeks  turn  into  months.  Absence  from  can’t.”tact  BRIS.  However,  children  who  want  to  go  school makes them feel even worse. Pretty soon,  Girl, age 14, the BRIS-mailto  school,  but  cannot  because  they  feel  so  bad  it is almost impossible to go back. contact BRIS, by phone, chat or e-mail. Maria  For the children, the link between problems  “Now it’s been nearly a month since I went toCederlund has summarised these types of con- and truancy is very clear, but this is not always  school, I have no idea whattacts BRIS had during 2009. She believes that  the case in the adult world. Adults tend to nag  I should do, my parents nagextended absences from school are a question of  or view truancy as an infraction of the rules in- me, school sends letters home about meetings. It’ssomething completely different than staying at  stead of asking for an explanation of why the  like a huge black cloud thathome to find something more fun to do.  children  skip  school.  The  children  mostly  say  just gets bigger and bigger.” Boy, age 16 “These  children  often  isolate  themselves  that they get told off by adults rather than un-at  home  and  feel  very  bad.  Common  factors  derstanding.  “I’ve been reported sickamong those who skip school are that many feel  “For a teenager, a week can be a long time, and  since December. I can’t goanxiety,  depression,  self-loathing,  headaches,  a month can be an eternity. A lot can happen at  anywhere without having stomach problems andlow  motivation,  dejection  and  considerable  school in that time and constellations of friends  anxiety, which is why I’mworry,” she says.  change. Their school is such an important part of  at home now and don’t It is most commonly girls who contact BRIS  children’s lives and if things do not work there,  go to school or even go out. Just go for short walkswith regard to long-term absenteeism. The rea- it affects the child’s entire existence.” Ultimately,  and practice driving withson they have begun to skip school is that they do  they lose their social contacts and become com- the car sometimes ... Oh Inot feel well for various reasons: they might have  pletely isolated, such as in this description by a  don’t do anything! I try not to think that I’m completelya tough situation at home, feel under pressure or  15-year-old girl: worthless, it’s not my faultare so depressed that they do not have the energy  “I do try, I don’t want it to be like this, it’s re- after all! “to go to school.  ally hard. I’m not stupid, I’m not lazy ... Now, one Girl, age 17, the BRIS-mail The BRIS Report 2010 17
  • The BRIS Report 2010 school For a teenager, a week can be a long time, and a month can be an eternity. Ultimately, they lose their social contacts and become completely isolated,” says Maria Cederlund, BRIS Representative at BRIS West.Number of contacts – School Topic No % of total % of total might think that I find something fun to do Children who skip school often feel a  no. of topics no. of noted contacts with friends or something when I stay home, sense of guilt and shame and the possibili- School 4,931 7.2% 22.8% but nope, I sit at home alone ... it’s not so ty of being anonymous makes the contact Total number topics noted 68,050 much fun. Feel completely isolated and ex- with BRIS easier. Here, there is always so-Total number of contacts 21,611 cluded ... missed so much that it’s impossible mebody who can listen, support and instil School 2005-2009 to catch up.” hope. That they get in touch with BRIS  shows that they want to talk, but do not  Year No Early intervention is crucial have anyone to talk to. Besides being met  2005 835 2006 1,110 Maria Cederlund believes in early interven- by adults, they can get support from their  2007 1,612 tion in cooperation between the home and  peers who share similar experiences and  2008 3,540 the school as well as Child and Adolescent  may have found a way out. Maria Ceder- 2009 4,931 Psychiatric Services since long-term absen- lund believes that the children can help  teeism  is  the  result  of  problems  the  child  each other.School by gender needs help with. Addressing absenteeism as  “In  meetings  on  the  Discussion  Fo- Gender of No. of % of early as possible is an important first step in  rum, they really support each other. They  the child contacts contacts preventing it from becoming long term. Be- encourage, spur on and share their own  Girl 3,722 76.1% Boy 1,170 23.9% cause once it is long term, a great deal more  feelings.  The  give  so  much  love  to  each Antal kontakter om Skolan effort is needed to get the student back into  other. They can also be straight forward där barnets kön framkommit 4 892 school, she explains and continues: and  honest  in  different  way  than  adults  Average age for “One  must  be  sensitive  and  take  the  can in their contact with children. Some- contacts about school Average age for children’s signals seriously and apply mea- times, a peer’s advice is worth more than  Girl 13.2 contacts about school 13.09 sures based on the child’s needs. Many of  an adult’s.” Boy 12.7 those we have been in touch with don’t even  However, the most important aspect is  want to be in the school building. In such  conveying that there is always a way out  cases,  the  school  should  be  able  to  offer  and several different ways to come back, THEME – SCHOOL home schooling so the student can catch up  she continues. Of the 4,931 contacts that were about on what he or she missed. Discussions do  “The  sad  thing  is  that  many  of  the school, just over 10 percent were also not necessarily need to take place at school  children  who  have  lost  contact  with about friends and slightly more than and could instead be held at home, at a café  school feel so bad that they cannot see the 5 percent of the contacts also con-cerned bullying. In addition, contacts or somewhere the child feels secure.” possibilities that actually do exist.”   about school can be found in just It may be possible for the child to work over 6 percent of the cases that also in a small group to be slowly eased back concern the topic of fear/anxiety. into school.  The BRIS Report 2010 18
  • schoolPushing, insults, being frozen out.This is the day-to-day for many childrentoday. And many children who are notbullied are afraid of being bullied. tExt Pernilla Rönnlid photo Johan BerglingIgnorance makes bullying worse Hi Bris. I don’t want to live any more. My life feels comple- tely hopeless and some days I just want to die. Other days, my family cheers me up, but that’s not often. I don’t understand why life has to be so unfair. I am really bul- lied at school, but no adult cares! For example, there’s a guy in the 9th grade (I’mF in 7th) that bullies me a lot.. ourtEEn pErcEnt oF the contacts with BRIS  ways, the lunchroom or in the changing room.  Or there are actually a few. are about bullying. Children talk the most  There is not so much bullying inside the class- I can’t even walk down the about the insulting words and the feeling of  room. But what happens outside the classroom  hallway before they start throwing erasers etc at me!being an outside affects what happens in the classroom.  I’ve never even talked to “This is the most difficult situation for adults  “Those victimised and bullied often fall silent  them, I don’t know them. Ito discover and it is the most difficult situation  in the classroom. Their concentration is affected  can’t even go to the cafe- teria without them throwingfor the child to feel like he or she is believed and  and they do not dare to ask questions and be ac- something at me.. Adults seeunderstood,” says Elena Luckey, BRIS Represen- tive in class work.” everything, but nobody ca-tative, who has reviewed in depth what children  Elena Luckey is a bit surprised that the gym  res. It feels like I’m worthless. Before, I felt invisible, buttell BRIS about bullying.  and changing room are not mentioned even more  now it feels like everyone Children talk about how they are teased for their  in terms of bullying. She believes that it may be  looks at me, in a negativelooks, something is either too large or too small,  because many children avoid going there at all  way and that’s so much worse. Because I can’t eatand in the corridors, other students can push, th- because it is too exposed and difficult.  in peace in the lunchroom,row things like rubber erasers and shout whore. The  Children who contact BRIS do not have faith  I usually go home and eatbullying can also be more cunning, such as when  in the school staff. Most feel that nobody listens  something over the lunch break, but now my parentsclassmates leave the table in the lunchroom and say  or cares. and family have begun tothey are done when a student sits down to eat.  “They  aren’t  believed.  The  child’s  perceptions  get worried, they think I have More serious physical violence, such as cho- are not taken seriously and the child often feels that  friends and stuff. But I don’t. Before I had a lot of friends,keholds, kicking and hitting, does not occur as  their teacher explains away what is happening.  until Christmas 2008. So alloften. All kinds of bullying occur at all ages, but  “The child is encouraged to be more social him  through upper elementaryfreezing someone out and insults are more com- or  herself  and  the  adult  can  ask  the  child  what  school and the first term of year 7. The second term, itmon among the older children.  he or she did and did not do. The adult acts as if  all changed. When I come there was a conflict, which constitutes yet another  home, I just want time to goTough coping with the day-to-day confirmation that the child is not taken seriously.  by! I usually fall asleep. Or watch a movie on my own.Many children tell BRIS about how tough it is to  What the victimised child says is used against him  I can’t live this life, but whatcope with the day-to-day when they are bullied.  or her,” says Elena.  the hell should I do? I just “It is hard to find the strength to go to school  want to jump in front of the first train I see.. Just wantedand know that you will be pushed and shoved or  Teachers can make it worse to vent a little, but this iswill have to stand there alone. Even if steps are  There are also teachers who talk with the bullies.  faaaar from everything! Ibeing  taken  against  the  bullying,  they  have  to  The children say that the situation can improve  don’t know who I should talk to. ps.. would really appre-cope with going to school.” at first, but then gets worse again. When child- ciate a response! Bullying most often takes place in the hall- ren go back to their teacher and tell them again,  Boy, age 13 The BRIS Report 2010 19
  • school Many do not want to tell their mother or father, both because they are ashamed and because they are afraid that their parents will be upset. They want to protect their parents, and themselves as well, says Elena Luckey, BRIS Representative. Topic No % of total % of total no. of topics no. of noted contacts the  teacher’s  plan  of  action  seems  to  be  children who respond by saying ‘hold out,  Bullying 3,051 4.5% 14.1% at  an  end.  The  teachers  lack  knowledge  there’s nothing to do’,” says Elena Luckey.Total number topics noted 68,050Total number of contacts 21,611 about how they should act if it happens  repeatedly, and it is often in these circum- Want helpBullying 2005-2009 stances  that  the  teachers  can  say  “now  When children contact BRIS, they often  Year No they’ve said they’re sorry” and “don’t be  want to know what they should do about  2005 2,408 so sensitive”.  their situation. Some are scared to go to  2006 2,549 Feelings of shame lead to children not  school because of the bullying. Most have  2007 2,900 talking with their teachers about bullying. low  self-confidence  and  some  say  that  2008 3,008 “They  do  not  think  they  are  right.  they turn off their feelings to cope. There  2009 3,051 Maybe  those  who  say  they  are  strange  are also children who say that they do not  might be right and it would be a shame  want to live. Bullying by gender for the teacher to realise it too.”  Many want help with how to move on  Many do not want to tell their mother  after being bullied. Even if the child is not  Gender of No. of % of the child contacts contacts or father, both because they are ashamed  bullied in his or her new situation, scars  Tjej 2,042 69.0% and because they are afraid that their pa- remain and the years as a victim of bul- rents  will be  upset.  They  are  also  afraid  lying affect their self-esteem.  Kille 963 32.0% that their parents will do something em- “They  constantly  think  about  what Number of contacts about Bullyingwhere the child’s gender was apparent 3,005 barrassing like call the school or call the  has happened and have a hard time beli- bullies’ parents. eving that they will be able to find friends  Average age for contacts “They want to protect their parents, and  even though nobody is mean to them any  about Bullying themselves as well,” says Elena Luckey. more. This feeling goes with them even if  Girl 10.7 Children can talk with adults at BRIS  they change schools.” Boy 11.8 by phone, e-mail or chat. On the BRIS Dis- Children who have never been bullied,  cussion Forum, children write submissions  but are afraid of being bullied also contact  Average age for contacts about bullying and  get  responses  from  other  children.  BRIS.  11.4 Here too, many children tell about pushi- “Many who are a part of the fearful group  ng, insults, being frozen out and teachers  in the periphery contact us. Those who do  who do not listen. Here, they more often  not dare to intervene. Then one understands  mention  teachers  who  bully  students,  by  how much power the bullies have. A person Nearly one third of the 3,051 contacts playing favourites for example.  is bullied and around them are five or six that concerned bullying were also “On the Discussion Forum, the child- scared people. They have seen the bullying about school. In 25 percent of thecontacts about bullying, the topic of ren get many concrete tips. They are encou- and what it does up close, and it is important friends was touched upon. In addition raged to tell, to go to the headmaster. The  not to become the one being bullied. This to these topics, the contacts about children  encourage  each  other  and  pro- is what I thought was frightening. The fear bullying commonly concerned lone- vide support by saying that they recognise  causes them not to defend the person being liness (just over 11 percent) and fear/ the situation, that they have been bullied  bullied. Then many who can stop the bul-anxiety (just over 9 percent). too, but that it passes. But there are also  lying disappear along the way.”.      The BRIS Report 2010 20
  • school The BRIS Report 2010Not beinggood enough Hi I’m a 13-year-old girl and I often feel fat and think I’mas one is disgusting. Some weeks I hardly eat anything and lose some weight. The next week I eat loads and feel gross and tExt Cecilia Nauclér then I have to fast some... photo Johan Gunséus and then it begins again! I can’t handle it anymore, I just want to like myself :( Girl, age 13 .. it’s like a part of me screams to hurt myself, while another part says it’s stupid. the part that thinks i should hComplex accounts are igh ExpEctationS oFå being beautiful and performance  hurt myself is much stronger, like it roars and the otherinvolved when children and pressure lead to eating disorders, self-destructiveness  side whispers. i always have and anxiety. Complex accounts are involved when children  to have something sharp onyoung people contact BRIS hand, even when i’m going and young people contact BRIS about mental illness.about feeling like they are to sleep. i can’t go to sleep And it is mainly teenage girls who say that they feel as  without having somethingnot good enough as they are. if they are not good enough as they are in their contact  like a needle next to my pil- with BRIS.  low, having something sharpThis poor self-esteem leads to gives me some kind of secu- “They only see faults in themselves and describe them- rity that i don’t have otherwi-serious consequences such selves  as  pathetic,  ugly,  fat  and  disgusting,”  says  Mona  se. if i have something sharpas anxiety, eating disorders Westman, BRIS North Regional Manager and the person  close by i always have a way out if the world gets to hard.and self-destructiveness. who delved into the contacts during 2009 that concerned  i’m unable to see myself asThese accounts show that the mental illness.  something valuable and “The girls’ accounts provide a view of a vicious circle,”  worthy of a happy life. i can’tadult world often lacks the see a single good thing Mona Westman continues. “The fundamental feeling of  about myself and it feels as ifability to give children and not being good enough and poor self-esteem is often exa- i’m not worthy of happiness,young people a nuanced cerbated by  problems  with school work.  The  knowledge  not even of living. i feel like a pain to friends and family,view of what life is really like, about how important good marks are to get into upper se- somebody who is just in the condary school and in working life means that the teenage  way...according to Mona Westman, Girl, age 16 girl feels even more like a failure. And that’s when their BRIS North Regional Manager, strength wanes,” says Mona Westman.  But who am I without my razorwho has studied the contacts “They feel so bad that they don’t have time to do their  blades? Who will I be withoutfrom 2009 concerning mental lessons or cannot keep up with their school work. They are  Lukas? (lukas = my anxiety also put under pressure by their school and parents often  demon) again.... I just want toillness. be a girl among the incredi- emphasizing the importance of good marks.”  bly large number of people For some, the feeling of being a complete failure leads  who live on this earth. I’ll be to a strong sense of anxiety that means they have a hard  nothing. “That girl there” Uugghh, just the thought gi- time going out or maintaining social contacts with their  ves me a minor panic attack. peers. Some try to soften their anxiety with self-destructive  It’s like it feels like my identity. behaviour such as self mutilation, fasting, or using drugs  Lukas has stood by my side for almost a year now.. even if or alcohol.  it might not be so long, it feels “Some use all of this, but tell BRIS that nothing helps.”  like an eternity. I’m just afraid In the girls’ accounts, Mona Westman believes she can  of getting better and at the same time there’s nothing I see that the adult world fails at giving detail to the picture  want more... of what life is like.  Girl, age 16 The BRIS Report 2010 21
  • mental illness “When the girls contact BRIS, they usually just want to begin by getting things off their chest,” says Mona Westman. “Life goes up and down for everyone, but the image these girls have of life is that everyone else is perfect. I believe that young people need to be given a more varied picture of what life is really like. I think that adults have a duty to tell them that life has its ups and downs.” Anxiety part of personalityThere are those who tell BRIS that they have named their anxiety, that it has become a part of their personality. “They often describe it as two different sides of their personality. One that wails and screams and tells her to cut herself, and one side that whispers that self-destructiveness is wrong. It is like a war they wage within themselves.”  Among the contacts, there are also girls who even worry about what could happen if they became healthy.  “They feel that they are nothing without their anxiety. Just a regular girl among all others on this great big earth.”  “In spite of this, the majority are very much looking for help,” says Mona Westman. “They really want to become healthy, have friends, laugh and go to school.  “They want a normal life.”  Some of the girls do not know why they feel bad. For them, the contact with BRIS becomes an opportunity  to get answers to their questions and thoughts. Among other things, they wonder if they are mentally ill for having these thoughts and they also believe that nobody else feels like they do. Mona Westman believes that it is actually not so strange that they do not recognise why they feel bad.  “When one feels really bad, it’s hard to see one’s own situation in its context.”  The BRIS Report 2010 22
  • mental illness The BRIS Report 2010 Explanations of illness However, there are contacts where the girls have explanations of  their poor mental health. They talk about divorces, burned out  parents, abuse, insults, parents with substance abuse problems,  or families where the parents blame the child for everything that  goes wrong. Some say that they feel like they are in the way at  home, that their parents do not have time for them. In such cases, Number of contacts concerning one or more of the topicsincluded in the theme of mental illness 4,118 it is also difficult to seek support from their parents. Number of times any of the topics included in the theme of “They feel that they would put too much of a burden on their mental illness has been noted 5,754 already stressed out parents. Moreover, they are worried that the  feeling of being a failure would become even greater if their pa- Topic No % of % of total % of total no. of number of rents knew about it.”  no. of contacts contacts The fear of being judged as mentally ill, shame and guilt over  topics about noted mental feeling bad, makes these teenage girls less inclined to seek help  illness from Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services or their school  Other mental 2,112 3.1% 9.8% 36.7% illness counsellor, for example. Some of them say that they nonetheless  Self-destructi- 1,353 2.0% 6.3% 23.5% went to the psychiatric services for talks, but are frustrated over  veness not feeling better. Many of them have felt bad for a long time, and  Suicide/thoughts 1,515 2.2% 7.0% 26.3% of suicide when they finally get help, they often have high expectations of  Eating disorders 774 1.1% 3.6% 13.5% quickly getting better, which creates disappointment when it does  Total Mental 5,754 8.5% 19.1% 100.0% not happen all at once.  illness “Here, the adult world is bad at involving the young people in Total number topics noted 68,050Total number of contacts 21,611 the process so that they understand that takes a long time to get  Average age for contacts about better and that one may even feel worse at the beginning.” Mental illness 2005-2009 Mental illness Then there are girls who think that they have shown the adult  Year No Girl 14.5 world how bad they feel in a number of different ways without the  Boy 13.8 2005 4,001 adults taking them seriously.  2006 4,871 Average age for “One girl told BRIS that she had been drunk in school and  2007 5,243 contacts about fainted,  but  nobody  reacted.  Another  booked  several  appoint- 2008 4,377 Mental illness 2009 4,118 ments with the school counsellor, who did not show up.”  14.1Mental illness by gender Worry for girlfriends Gender of the child No. of contacts % of contacts There are boys with similar problems who contact BRIS, but they  Girl 3,647 89.1% are few in number. However, there are some boys who contact  Boy 448 10.9% BRIS because they are worried about their girlfriends who are Number of contacts about mental illness where the child’s doing poorly. They notice that their girlfriend cuts herself or has gender was apparent 4,095 eating disorders, and they contact BRIS to get help with how they  could give her support.  “When the girls contact BRIS, they usually just want to begin THEME – MENTAL ILLNESS by  getting things  off their  chest,”  says Mona Westman.  “Ano-The collective term of mental ill- nymity is crucial since it lets them feel certain they will not be ness comprises four different topics: judged, or revealed, and they dare to be honest and open in what suicide or thoughts of suicide, self- they say. destructiveness, eating disorders and “It is incredibly important for them that we are there as soun-other mental illness. ding boards, offering advice and support, and that they can dis-These accounted for a total of 5,754 cuss their thoughts and questions with us.” supportive contacts, where onecontact often concerns several of Adults should also not belittle children’s feelings, because that the topics. In addition to this, it is is when they grow stronger. In the contacts, some talk about adult also common that the contacts that contacts that have been important for them, and here they tell of include any of the topics related to adults who have listened and not made something big out of what mental illness also concern friends they have said. (nearly 8 percent) or school (just over “They want the adults to listen without rushing to find a solu-5 percent). tion. Just having been seen by someone else means a lot.”    The BRIS Report 2010 23
  • boys The BRIS Report 2010The statistics show that there are fewer boys who contactBRIS than girls. However, BRIS’ documented contacts withboys show that the broad range of the topics is striking and –just like for the girls – the contacts often concern relationshipproblems, appearance and identity issues.Reflecting “Hi, I’m 14 years old and will turn 15 this summer. Right now I’m having a really hard time at home with both of my parents. They’re divor-boys seek ced and wherever I go there’s always trouble. Mum runs me out of the house and takes my computer and stuff. What usually leads to the rows is if I might be late or things like that. Then it turnsconcrete into a huge thing. I’ve fought with my mum several times and a lot of times dad grabs me hard by the neck and stuff. But now I feel like it’s gone way too far. I end up in trouble in school and no-advice body understands me. Mum and dad argue about who I should be with and it feels as if they don’t want me any more when I behave badly. tExt Åsa Wallentin How can I fix everything? photo Stina Svanberg They never give me praise, but instead shout as soon as I do something stupid. Really can’t take it any longer... What should I do?”i Boy, age 14 would likE to deflate the myth that boys do  Most boys on the phone not say much. I have myself been stuck in this  Consequently,  many  of  the  calls  from  boys  do  “I’ve asked a girl if she’ll goperception, but I see many examples of a ready  not end up in BRIS’ documentation according to  out with me and she never answers my messages. Whataccess  to  language  and  means  of  expression.  him. Looking at the statistics, approximately 30  should I do?”They reflect, are inclined to change and can re- percent of those who call the Children’s Helpline  Boy, age 11ally describe their situation.”  are boys, while between 10 to 12 percent of those  These  are  the  words  of  Henrik  Brolinson,  on the BRIS-chat and the BRIS-mail are boys. “My dad is completely mes- sed up he threatens to beatBRIS  Representative,  Eastern  Region.  He  stu- “The  phone  seems  to  work  better  for  more  me a lot”died  the  BRIS-mail,  the  BRIS-chat  and  the  boys than the BRIS-chat and the BRIS-mail. It  Boy, age 12Discussion Forum when he went through boys’  seems to be a channel they feel is good. Compa-contacts with BRIS during 2009.  ring e-mails with phone calls, it suits the boys  “Hi again! I’ve tried for a really long time now to try to According  to  the  statistics,  there  are  fewer  more to call instead of send an e-mail, where one  leave the girl I like a lot, theboys  who  contact  BRIS  than  girls.  Of  all  of  sometimes has to wait a few days for a response,”  girl who got together withBRIS’ documented contacts, only about 20 per- says Henrik Brolinson, and continues:  a guy in her class. But it’s completely impossible sincecent are from boys. At the same time, there are  “It may seem small in the statistics, but one  so much had happenedjust as many conversations about boys as girls on  has  to  remember  that  one  out  of  five  contacts  between us before she gotthe BRIS Adult Helpline - About Children, and  nonetheless is made by a boy. And the material  together with the guy in her class. I’d do anything to getboth boys and girls call the Children’s Helpline.  I’ve reviewed has been fantastic.” her back!! A while I thought “The  boys  call  almost  as  frequently  as  the  The most frequent topics boys contact BRIS  about suicide, but after a lotgirls, but I believe that they test us to a greater ex- about  are  questions  concerning  leisure  time,  of what-ifs it didn’t turn out that way after I talked to mytent before they dare say what it’s actually about.  sexual  development,  bullying,  abuse  and  sex.  mates and tried to explainMany boys may begin by telling funny stories,  But Henrik Brolinson emphasizes that the broad  how things were. But whatjust hanging up or shouting something. What  range of topics is striking. the hell should I do now??1?! Can’t handle sitting herethey really want to say comes forth only after a  “It’s  all  things  large  and  small,  and  doesn’t  and waiting for her!!:(”few so-called test calls,” says Henrik Brolinson. actually differ so much from what girls want to  Boy, age 15 The BRIS Report 2010 24
  • The BRIS Report 2010 boys Gender No % of total number of contacts where the child’s gender was apparent Boys 4,536 21.2%Total number of supportive contacts where We mustthe child’s gender was apparent 21,438 also be there Average Channel selection by gender, boys for the children and age, boys 14.5 692 No Children’s Helpline young people who 15.2% 220 No 4.8% BRIS-mail BRIS-chat are not trained in 3,624 No Number of contacts talking about their 79.9% about boys 4,536 thoughts.10 most common topics for boys Topic No. of % of topics 3 63tal no. discuss. It often concerns problems with  sues.  Henrik  Brolinson  says  that  their  boys noted about of contacts boys/girls about boys/ relationships,  appearance  and  identity  thoughts  and  questions  may  be  about  girls issues,” he says.  cultural  clashes,  feeling  different  and  School 1,170 8.7% 25.8% Their  thoughts  and  questions  can  not  fitting  in,  but  they  may  also  be  Friends 1,149 8.5% 25.3% be about their parents’ divorce, which  about bullying. Bullying 963 7.1% 21.2% Fear/anxiety 861 6.4% 19.0% of their parents they want to live with,  The  facts  that  fewer  boys  than  girls  Loneliness 704 5.2% 15.5% other problems with their parents, ques- contact BRIS and that more boys call and  Love 682 5.1% 15.0% tions  concerning  love  relationships,  as  test BRIS give rise to the question if there  Family conflicts 590 4.4% 13.0% well as questions about appearance and  is reason to treat the boys differently. Sex 583 4.3% 12.9% clothing style.  “Of  course,  we  all  have  different  Leisure time 535 4.0% 11.8% Physical abuse 485 3.6% 10.7% So the topics are generally the same,  training in formulating and expressing  but Henrik Brolinson feels that many of  ourselves,  and  it  is  possible  that  some Number of contact topics noted in contacts about boys 13,469Number of contacts about boys 4,536 the boys demand a bit more concrete ad- boys need more time to get going. There  vice than what the girls generally want.  may be a fear of not being believed or ta- “The  boys  are  often  very  concrete,  ken seriously. But we must also be there THEME – BOYS and have more questions of the “what  for the children and young people who The boys account for 4,536 of BRIS’ should I do?” type.” are  not  trained  in  talking  about  their supportive contacts, corresponding He  does  not  think  long  accounts  thoughts,”  answers  Henrik  Brolinson, to just over 21 percent of the total are uncommon where the problems are  and continues:number of supportive contacts. The twisted  and  turned,  accompanied  by  “I usually think that persistence pays most common topic for contacts questions and requests for information.  off. If the boys are turned away at the about boys is school, which occur- Their thoughts are often concluded with  door the whole time, they won’t be able red in 25 percent of the contacts.Nearly as common were contacts a direct question as to what they should  to  practice  expressing  themselves.  We about friends, which also occurred do to move forward and how they should  have  to  show  that  we  are  prepared  to in 25 percent of the contacts. find a solution to their problem. take in their thoughts and questions. If Compared with contacts about we can find some opening, it builds a girls, it is significantly more common Thoughts about cultural clashes sense  of  trust  that  we  have  to  be  able that contacts about boys concern Another topic boys contact BRIS about  to take care of. And then their accounts sex and leisure time. is  multicultural  and  immigrant  is- will come.”    The BRIS Report 2010 25
  • What do children and young people actually think about BRIS and about the help they receive from BRIS? To find out, two web surveys were conducted in 2009 addressed to children and young people. And the answer was almost unanimous – BRIS is needed!BRIS isneeded!d uring thE yEar, two web surveys directed at  children and young people were conducted where  they  could  answer  questions  about  how  Above all, the children and young people ap- preciate  the  opportunity  to be able to speak out and they perceive BRIS and the help that BRIS pro- have someone listen, that it  What should BRISvides. is anonymous and free-of- emphasize in the The first survey was done on  charge,  and  they  feel  that  parliamentary election? (192 opinions)during  two  days  and  resulted  in  nearly  3,000  the  advice  and  responses  • School issues, mainly the pro-survey responses.  they  receive  are  good  and  blems of bullying. The other survey was done on, and  really help.  • That more children and young people are fairing poorly due,over  two  weeks,  nearly  400  responses  were  re- The  criticism  that  for example, to victimisation atceived.  children and young people  home, physical/sexual abuse or In the survey on, the children  express  is  that  it  may  be  society’s fixation on looks.could say whether they had ever visited  difficult to get through to or used any of BRIS’ support services and what  BRIS, the phone lines can they think of BRIS’ work.  be busy for a long time, the  In  the  questionnaire  on,  they  were  queue to the BRIS-chat is long and it takes time given the opportunity to answer questions about  to get an answer from the BRIS-mail. what they think of the help they received from  Some feel that the help has been insufficient BRIS, what they feel is good and bad in the con- and that the responses were too standardised or tact with BRIS and lastly how they think BRIS  that the person the child spoke with did not un-could improve.  derstand the child’s situation.  In  both  of  the  surveys,  a  clear  majority  felt  BRIS takes this criticism seriously! We conti-that BRIS’ support services are good.  nuously work on the training and further educa- The BRIS Report 2010 26
  • The BRIS Report 2010 The BRIS Report 2010tion of all volunteers in our support services and  We  are  increasing  the  opening  hours  of  the we are working hard to increase the availability  BRIS-chat so that more children can chat with us. for  children  and  young  people  in  our  support  But above all, we are incredibly respectful of services.  the children’s trust in us!  For example, BRIS held the Children’s Hel- Children need adults who listen to them and pline  open  on  both  Christmas  Eve  and  New  see  them.  Children  need  to  be  taken  seriously Year’s Eve for the first time, which means that  and they need to be allowed to speak. This is why children can now call us every day of the year,  BRIS exists and why we continue to work for all year-round.  of the children who want to contact us.    “I think that bris is great, it’s fortunate that they are there, because I don’t think we would be able to cope without Bris. Bris has given me a new life, so thank you so much!” Statistics surveys “I think that BRIS is a perfect group for kids who are bullied or have mental problems. BRIS doesn’t need any tips, it’s a perfect group who knows what they are doing. BRIS is also per- Summary of the BRIS survey on What was bad? (163 opinions) fect since it gives us someone to 2009 One has to wait a long time, mainly for answers on the talk with if you feel bullied, sick BRIS-mail, but also for the BRIS-chat and on the phone. or it’s something else. Without Are you satisfied with the help you The respondents feel that they received poor treat- BRIS, the bullied kids in Sweden ment in the form of predictable standard responses, wouldn’t have been able to get received when you contacted the they felt that the person they spoke with did not by. It’s good that BRIS exists oth- Children’s Helpline, the BRIS-mail and understand or felt that it was not constructive. erwise there would be problems the BRIS-chat? (n=358) They were unsatisfied with the advice they got and here in Sweden. Sweden is a the help that was offered. good country, and a suggestion for why it’s a good country, we No What should BRIS emphasize in the have democracy and we have 17% parliamentary election? (192 opinions) BRIS!” School issues, mainly the problems of bullying. “It’s a nice place [don’t un- That more children and young people are fairing derstand what they get out of it] poorly due, for example, to victimisation at home, Yes 83% Bris is a really good organisa- physical/sexual abuse or society’s fixation on looks. tion. They help kids against crazy parents. Can’t think of Survey about BRIS on June 2009 anything they could do better. n=2 855 BRIS Rules!” What was good? (307 opinions) • Nearly 60% of the respondents had visited at least once. “I think that BRIS is great cause The respondents feel it is good to talk with some- • 33% of the respondents had used BRIS’ support maybe 80% of all adults (over body who listens. services at least once 20 years old) don’t care about They feel as if they receive good support and help • Of the 817 who had ever used BRIS’ support servi- what kids say or do.. You don’t and are treated well. ces and wrote an answer to the question of what need to improve it, it’s already They feel that they have received good answers. they liked about BRIS, 87% were positive or very good :)” 10% of those who answered the question felt that positive to BRIS. everything is good. “I think that BRIS is really good, we don’t feel pressured, we can talk about what we want and finish the conversation when we feel like it. I feel really safe with BRIS.” “It’s an incredibly good organi- sation that stretches out a hand to kids who need help. It’s nice to know that they’re there.” “BRIS is really great. I myself have called many times when I feel down and it’s really helped.” The BRIS Report 2010 27
  • The BRIS Report 2010 The Children’s Helpline is switching to the harmonised European number 116 111. In practical terms, the switch will entail no change; it is still free for children and young people to call BRIS and all calls are still completely anonymous. The advantage is that BRIS now has a shorter number that is easier to remember and is the same as all of the phone services for children seeking help in Europe. tExt Cecilia Nauclér illuStration Helena Lunding i t waS SomEwhat obvious  that  rator networks in Sweden since 2009. difficulty helping the child when he or she  BRIS should apply to have the number  “In purely practical terms, there is no  is in another country.”  116 111  assigned  to  us,  since  the  ser- difference for the children and young pe- Swedish children who are abroad, can  vice “Helpline for Children” covered by  ople when they call BRIS. The phone calls  instead contact BRIS through the web- the number is a service we already offer,”  are free, the children and young people  based  support  services  on,  says Peter Irgens, BRIS’ International Se- are  completely  anonymous  and  it  does  the BRIS-mail or the BRIS-chat, to get  cretary.   not show up on the phone bill that some- support and advice.  In  2007,  the  European  Commission  body has called us,” Peter Irgens explains.  The  harmonised  European  numbers  decided that every member state should  “The major advantage of the number  with  associated  services  receive  no  fi- have harmonised European phone num- 116 111 is that it is easier to remember,” he  nancing  from  the  European  Commis- bers  for  services  valuable  to  society,  in  continues. “Moreover, there is no change  sion or the member states. Instead, each  other  words  every  member  state  should  if the child was to move elsewhere within  organisation that has been allocated the  have the same phone number for services  Europe or is in another European country  number  must  finance  the  service  itself.  that  assist  the  citizens  in  various  ways.  and need help.”  This financing varies between the diffe- One  number,  one  service,  regardless  However, the call is always connected  rent countries. In Sweden, Tele2 pays for  of  country.  Consequently,  the  number  to  the  phone  service  of  the  country  the  BRIS’ telephony costs for the number. 116 111 should always go to a helpline for  child is in. For instance, a child cannot  So  far,  organisations  in  17  member  children  regardless  of  which  European  call 116 111 from France and be connec- states  have  been  allocated  the  number  country it is, on condition of course that  ted to BRIS in Sweden.  116 111  and  in  July  2009,  the  number  such a service is offered in that country. “There are several reasons why it is im- worked  in  the  following  12  European  In 2008, BRIS was assigned the num- possible to get in touch with the phone  countries:  ber by the Swedish National Post and Te- service  of  one’s  home  country  via  the  Denmark,  Estonia,  Finland,  Ireland,  lecom Agency and, with help from Tele2  number when abroad; on one hand, the  Lithuania,  Poland,  Portugal,  Romania,  to commission the number, it has been  free service does not work for internatio- Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany  in operation on all of the telephone ope- nal calls, and on the other, we may have  and Hungary.      2010 ·The BRIS Report 28 great. “bris is really d many times I my self have calle y n and it’s reall w hen I feel dow nded, helped.” mentally fu re att www.ha bb es are not govern ibutions (from web ques tionnaiBRIS’ servic g on contr atly dependin Do youbut are gre ns and co mpanies. te perso les us to from priva who ena b on e of those want to be d youth? hildren an nks! pport c 5 04 -1. Tha su te at PG 90 1 e o r dona Visit BRIS.s The BRIS Report 2010 28