The Smile of the Child
Member: NGO Premium
Voluntary Children's Association
10, Zinonos Eleatou Street, GR-151 24 Maroussi, Athens, Greece
The Smile of the Child: International Child Helpline Day
On the occasion of the 17th of May, International Child Helpline Day, “The Smile of the Child” unites its efforts with international partners from across the globe by participating in an awareness-raising campaign on the vital role child helplines play for children.
“The Smile of the Child” is member of Child Helpline International (CHI). CHI is the global network of 181 child helplines in 139 countries and is based in Amsterdam. CHI supports the creation and strengthening of national toll-free child helplines worldwide, and uses child helpline data and knowledge to highlight gaps in child protection systems and advocate for the rights of children.
At the national level, “The Smile of the Child” has been operating the National Helpline for Children SOS 1056 since 1997, the European Hotline for Missing Children 116000 since 2008, as well as the European Helpline for Children and Adolescents 116111, and, thus, contributes directly to preventing and addressing serious problems related to children victims of violence, abuse, neglect, disappearance, trafficking and bullying.
The European Helpline for Children and Adolescents 116111 was inaugurated in 2016 and operates under the umbrella of CHI providing its services for all children in Greece, including refugee and migrant children at risk and in need of support. The services of 116111 are free, available nationwide on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, with 4 interconnected centers as one, staffed by social workers and psychologists and a maximum waiting time of 12 seconds.
A Disaster Recovery Area at the Athens International Airport ensures the continuous operation of the helpline (similarly to the 1056 and 116000 lines) in the event of any emergency or crisis situation.
The lines are officially recognized as Emergency Lines and are interconnected with the European Emergency Number 112.
2016 Statistical data from “The Smile of the Child”:
On the National Helpline for Children SOS 1056:
• 244.676 calls were received. 39% of these calls were related to reports for children at risk;
• 835 reports on serious cases of abuse for 1.624 children in total;
• Direct interventions were carried out for 171 children at immediate risk. 67% of these children were in need of immediate removal from their family environment.
On the European Hotline for Missing Children 116000:
• 6.149 calls were received and 170 requests of support to operations of search and rescue of missing children. 136 children were traced.
On the European Helpline for Children and Adolescents 116111:
• 7.581 calls were received, whereas counseling services were provided to 4.249 individuals.
The global network of child helplines marks the International Child Helpline Day by calling on governments to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular to urgently end all forms of violence against children as Goal 16.2 and related targets obliging Member States to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children…” including physical and sexual violence, mental violence and psychological abuse, and neglect or negligent treatment.
The network makes reference to the Bangkok Declaration, ratified by the General Assembly of Child helplines, among them “The Smile of the Child”, gathered in Bangkok, Thailand on 16th November 2016 for the 8th International Consultation of Child Helpline International.
• Child helplines operating in 142 countries uphold the child’s right to protection from violence;
• In 2015 child helplines answered nearly 20 million contacts from children and young people worldwide;
• One out of seven contacts concerns abuse and violence;
• Children in disaster areas and conflict zones are at special risk;
• Gender based violence causes several forms of violence against children;
• Child helplines listen, counsel, refer, assist and provide other essential services to children in need.
• Ensure that every child in all countries has information about and access to high quality child helpline support so that children exposed to abuse and violence can be supported and responded to;
• Adopt appropriate legal provisions banning all forms of violence against children and providing for sufficient resources to bring violators to justice;
• Use the voices of children, including the data from child helplines, to further advance the implementation of children’s rights in national child protection;
• Implement target 16.2 of the SDG’s: “End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children” in all settings, including homes and families, schools and institutions, in communities and public spaces”.
Governments are called upon as well as stakeholders in civil society, international agencies and the private sector, including telecoms and other industry partners, to:
• Recognise and communicate that no violence against children is ever justifiable;
• Support the sustainability of child helplines through providing adequate resources to ensure their ability to operate;
• Recognise child helplines’ unique capacity to bring the voices of children out in the public domain to emphasise the situation of children subject to violence.
“As we move forward steadily with the implementation of the sustainable development agenda, it is important that national governments and other relevant national, regional and global stakeholders support Child Helpline International. We must continue to listen carefully to children and act upon their experiences in order to strengthen national child-protection systems and create a world that truly fulfils its commitments to its youngest and most valuable citizens”
Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children