THE number of children contacting a helpline because of worries about their parents' divorce or separation has soared in the past year, according to a charity.

Almost 600 counselling sessions were carried out by ChildLine staff in 2012/13, a rise of 171 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Susan Dobson, ChildLine service manager, said: "Our counsellors at bases in Aberdeen and Glasgow found that 13 per cent of all contacts they received over the course of a year related to issues at home, with children and young people dealing with a range of distressing problems.

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"This could be anything from parental break-ups to sibling arguments, strict parenting, negative responses to sexuality and the impact of family health issues.

"Some of these children need somewhere to vent [their feelings], but for many they're facing a really difficult time at home and are desperate for reassurance and a safe space to share their fears."

A total of 16,627 young people were given counselling about family relationship problems last year, the charity said.

One of the main areas that saw the biggest increase in calls was concerns about parents' divorce and separation, according to its figures. Other callers were concerned about their parents' drinking problems.