Every year we survey our child helpline members to get a comprehensive regional and global picture of issues facing children and young people. Our new report, “Voices of Children and Young People in the EU” is based on the data received from 26 child helplines in 22 countries of the European Union in the year 2017, when our child helpline members provided services to 1,200,310 contacts. The report also takes a special look at the issues faced by LGBTQI+ children and young people within the EU.
Many children who contacted child helplines in 2017 expressed concerns relating to psychosocial and mental health. The child helplines recorded almost twice as many contacts related to mental health compared to family relationships, the second largest reason for making contact. Children in the EU seemed particularly concerned with their relationships, whether with their family or with their peers. Issues of abuse and violence were also important reasons why children and concerned adults contact the helplines in 2017.
Another important reason for children and young people contacting child helplines is because they had questions about sexuality and sexual awareness. Some of the reasons for contact specifically related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sexual characteristics. In total, child helplines in the EU received 17,765 contacts concerning these issues. We requested data for contacts where the child or young person specifically identified as LGBTQI+. This data shows that the top 5 reasons LGBTQI+ children and young people contacted child helplines in 2017 were about abuse and violence, family relationships, bullying, addiction and basic needs. The fact that “abuse and violence” is identified as the top reason for making contact with a child helpline confirms the particular vulnerability of LGBTQI+ children.
Child helplines play a critical role in the promotion and realisation of children’s rights. They provide a safe, accessible platform for children and young people across the globe to receive the support they need, through counselling and referral services. Through quality data and first-hand insight into the issues most affecting children’s lives, child helplines have the immense capacity to advocate for children’s rights and wellbeing.
Let’s ensure that every child’s right to be heard is realised, and that every child helpline has access to the resources and global network they need to help make universal children’s rights a reality.
Read the report online here.
You can also download a printable version of the PDF.