Helplines combat violence against children 

A confidential platform where children can voice their experiences without fear of reprisal encourages disclosure and advocacy

A significant barrier to ending corporal punishment is the culture of silence surrounding the issue. As corporal punishment often occurs behind closed doors, it is challenging to detect and address. Many children who experience corporal punishment hesitate to report these instances of abuse or seek help due to fear, shame, or a lack of trust in adults. They may feel isolated, scared, and unsure of where to seek help.

Child helplines play a pivotal role in breaking this silence by creating safe spaces where young individuals can voice their concerns without fear of judgment or retribution.

Accessible and non-judgmental support

Free national child helplines have a broad geographical coverage and remove financial barriers to access. By operating 24/7, staffed with trained professionals and volunteers who are equipped to handle sensitive situations, they provide immediate access to support, information, and assistance for children in distress/need.

These helplines often serve as the initial point of contact and a bridge between children and appropriate authorities, ensuring that cases of abuse and neglect are addressed promptly and effectively by connecting children with additional services such as counselling, health, or emergency support.

In recent years, text-based services have become the preferred method of contact for children. In 2022, around one third of all contacts made to child helplines in Europe were through text or web-based channels. Offering support through online chats and text messaging also provides opportunities for children who are not comfortable with talking on the phone about their experiences to seek help.

A harmonised number for Child Helplines in Europe: 116 111

In 2007, the harmonised phone number 116 111 was reserved for child helplines across Europe. Today, this number operates in 23 out of 27 EU countries (9 out of 10 CBSS Member States) alongside other national child helplines across Europe.

This harmonised number is easy to remember and helps ensure that children in countries across Europe can easily access the support they need. Additionally, an easy-to-remember number that represents the same service throughout Europe is important for people who cross borders, for example for children in migration.

Awareness raising and advocacy

Child helplines play a pivotal role in raising awareness about the effects of corporal punishment on children’s physical and psychological well-being. Through outreach programs, workshops, and educational campaigns, helplines strive to change societal attitudes and norms surrounding discipline and parenting. By promoting positive, non-violent disciplinary methods, they contribute to creating a nurturing environment where children can thrive free from fear and harm.

Beyond providing direct assistance to children, helplines actively engage in advocacy efforts aimed at influencing policies and legislation related to children’s rights and protection. By documenting cases of corporal punishment and highlighting its prevalence and impact, helplines contribute valuable data and insights to inform policy discussions and reforms. Their advocacy efforts are instrumental in pushing for legal frameworks that prohibit corporal punishment in all settings, including homes, schools, and alternative care settings.

Some helplines are even integrated into child welfare systems, and provide critical functions in identifying children in need of protection.

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