By Tamsin Osbourne

September 22, BBC News

Children suffering abuse will soon be able to contact the NSPCC's ChildLine via text messages and the internet.

The NSPCC hopes to reach more at-risk children by making use of the technology that youngsters are comfortable and familiar with.

Early trials by the NSPCC show that boys and girls seek help with family problems in very different ways.

The improved access to ChildLine - 0800 1111 - comes as the NSPCC bids to recruit more people to answer calls.

Helping hand

Although thousands of people contact the NSPCC via ChildLine every day the organisation still struggles to answer every call. Currently about 67% of calls get answered and just 40% of children who need counselling receive it.

"At the moment, we've got a real problem about not being able to reach every child who wants help," said Dame Mary Marsh, director and chief executive of the NSPCC which took over ChildLine in 2006.

"The rate that children can get through is just not good enough, so part of the process is to give different channels of access so there is going to be some way they can get some help," she said.

Help to expand the NSPCC services is coming from Microsoft in the shape of a £1.3m donation of software and services from Microsoft. Also included in the donation is space on the MSN homepage through which children will be able to contact ChildLine.

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image: Some children must be careful when seeking aid (by BBC News)