Child helplines support millions of children every year. They respond to issues ranging from serious children’s rights violations, to children who just want someone to chat to on the way home from school. Child helplines provide an easily accessible, confidential system that allows children themselves to tell a counsellor what is going on in their lives. Therefore, child helplines have a unique insight into the gap between policy and reality, making them a key actor in advocating for children’s rights.
Every year, we ask our child helpline members around the world to provide us with the information they have gathered about the children and young people who make contact with them. We bring all of this data together in a yearly report: Voices of Children & Young People Around the World, so that we can better understand the issues that children and young people are facing.
This year, our report provides an overview of 3.75 million counselling contacts made to child helplines around the world. This amount is the equivalent of 430 contacts being received by a child helpline somewhere in the world every hour, every day.
Mental health and violence were, once again, the two most common reasons for contact being reported by child helplines globally. More than half of the contacts they received were related to one of these two topics.
Our report explores the data received across five different regions. We also focus not only on mental health and violence contacts, but also contacts about access to services, which was the third major reason for reaching out to a child helpline in three of the five regions. And we provide the voices of children and young people to you directly, through a series of case stories that have been collected by our members across the globe.
Our report this year also includes two special forewords: from Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, and from Sheema Sen Gupta, UNICEF’s Director of Child Protection.
“Child helplines continue to be a vital service for children everywhere. They also contribute to make significant strides in making themselves more and more accessible, empowering children by providing an indispensable channel to access safety and protection.”
– Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid
“The data generated through child helplines has informed UNICEF programmes. It has, for instance, shed light on the access, utilization and demand for violence prevention and response services, and has been used to explore patterns in identifying and reporting violence over time.”
– Sheema Sen Gupta
Our report also provides us with a further opportunity to promote our four key recommendations:
#1: Every child and young person should have free and unrestricted access to child helpline services.
#2. Quality and sustainability of child helplines are crucial to ensuring children’s rights.
#3. Child helpline data and youth participation should inform policy and decision-making that affects children and young people’s lives.
#4. Structured partnerships are needed to eradicate violence against all children and young people.