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20 Years, 20 Voices: Childline Thailand

Childline-Thailand
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2023 marks the 20th Anniversary of Child Helpline International. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we have invited 20 of our members – from all around the world, founding members and members who have recently joined us – to share their stories in a special series that will run between now and World Children’s Day on 20 November 2023.

SAIDEK 1387 – CHILDLINE THAILAND

It’s amazing to think that it’s been 20 years since Childline Thailand joined Childline Helpline International as a founding member in 2003. During that time we’ve received 1.3 million contacts from children, inspired many others, and advocated for change on behalf of Thailand’s youth, something we couldn’t have done without support from an international network.

Being a member of Child Helpline International has given us the opportunity to be part of a family that understands our work and through collaborations we’ve been able to make a greater impact. By sharing resources and data we’ve been more effective, for example the 2022 Child Helpline Data Survey which helped us to redefine contact analysis and made it easier to compare our data at a global level. Working together has amplified recognition of helplines, for example International Child Helpline day which we’ve enjoyed promoting since its launch in 2007. 

Every 15 minutes a child reaches out to Childline Thailand for assistance, by calling our free 24/7 helpline (Saidek 1387) or messaging us on social media. We provide professional counselling, links to emergency services, case management, and legal assistance to children under the age of 18 who are living in Thailand. Childline intervenes before children slip into exploitation, and we rescue them from abuse. Our vision is that – at all times – the children of Thailand should have access to timely and appropriate protection, health and human services to increase their quality of life.

Childline Thailand also manages the Hub, a centre for children in street situations in Bangkok. Living on the streets means facing serious risks and challenges including sexual exploitation, trafficking, drug addiction, gang violence, health problems and malnourishment, neglect and depression. Thailand suffers from a lack of progressive social services and support systems, leaving children with nowhere to turn. The Hub provides three free meals a day, showers, medical care and education support to homeless youths, with the goal to elevate them from the streets. Each month 200 children receive support from the Hub – we are running a fundraiser to help cover expenses.

Childline Thailand can be contacted at info@childlinethailand.org

We were a founding member of Child Helpline International, one of 49 organizations. It was 2003, the same year that Childline launched, and we’ve been on this journey together ever since. It hasn’t always been easy but through dedicated work from this network more children’s lives are being improved than ever before.

We’re proud to be one of the “20 Years, 20 Voices” stories and one of a growing network of child helplines. We look forward to working together in the future!

 

Ilya Smirnoff
Director,
Childline Thailand

Voices of Children and Young People

“I’m waiting for my mother to come back for me…”

While out running on Pattaya beach one morning, a member of the public found a 10-year-old-boy lying on a blanket on the sand. They asked him why he was sleeping there and who he was waiting for. The child said he was waiting for his mother because she had told him she would come to pick him up. They asked the child how many days he had been sleeping there, and he replied that he had been there for two nights.

They realized that his mother was unlikely to return, and it seemed she had abandoned him. They decided to buy him some food and then searched on Google for organizations that could help the child. They found a contact number for the Childline Thailand Foundation and called around 6 in the morning. We asked them to send pictures of the child via messaging app so we could coordinate with Chonburi shelter for children and families. We then provided the child’s photo and location coordinates, which led to the rescue of the child.

The person who initially reported the case checked whether someone had come to pick up the child when they noticed that the child was no longer there. They contacted us to confirm, and they were told that the child had been taken to the shelter. Staff from the shelter decided to visit the child’s house to see the child’s living conditions. They inquired about the area where the child had been staying and spoke to the child’s mother. It turned out that the mother didn’t want the child and was willing to leave him to the care of the authorities. So, the child was placed in the custody of the organization.

It was discovered that the child had never received any formal education. The organization focused on providing the child with basic necessities and education. They will care for him until he turns 18, assisting him in finding employment or starting his own life. This case was one where genuine help was provided, even though we didn’t directly intervene on-site.