Collaborating with global helplines
Although we support young people in the UK, Get Connected is a key member of Child Helpline International (CHI) – a network of around 192 helplines working to support children and young people in 145 countries. We believe in sharing knowledge with our peers – and vice versa – can help us provide an even better service for the vulnerable young people who contact us in crisis every year.
I was recently invited to attend a regional consultation of child helplines in Strasbourg, France. I presented to the Council of Europe and other members of CHI, discussing how child helplines play a fundamental role in the child protection system, as well as our ongoing challenges around financial sustainability.
For many countries, child helplines are the first point of contact with Child Protection Systems (CPS). They play a vital role in empowering children and young people – as well as listening to what they have to say, we can let them know more about their rights and give them a voice. Young people have a right to be heard, and we are here to listen.
Child helplines help to protect young people and can play a key role in detection and prevention of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation of children and young people. Any data we gather can be used as evidence for us to advocate and influence those who make the policies directly affecting children and young people.
I also recently attended the regional consultation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Here, I delivered a training session regarding child online protection systems, specifically how child helplines have evolved and how Get Connected is adapting to meet the increasing demand for our service.
Something else I covered is how the explosion of information and communication technology has created unprecedented opportunities for children and young people to communicate, connect, share, learn, access information and express their opinions on matters that affect their lives and their communities.
There are risks associated with this – as children’s on- and off-line lives begin to expand and blur, so do the risks and exposure to exploitation through cyber-bullying and online grooming. Children may also be unaware of the consequences of engaging in risky or inappropriate online behaviours, plus they face risks around online privacy.
But new technologies, when used strategically and appropriately, can promote inclusion, empowerment and participation for children and young people. As well as the emotional support they receive through our helpline, our technology can connect them to other support services, including our own in-house counselling service. We can also text them information, send an email transcript of a web chat for them to refer to, and our app and website can also connect young people to us for free.
We share our knowledge with other helplines in the hope that every child or young person can reach out and find someone to talk to, whatever they are experiencing. And by using traditional and newer digital technologies together, we can create a seamless journey of support for young people so they can talk in confidence and find the right support for them, however they are comfortable.
This post was originally part of the Get Connected website. YouthNet and Get Connected merged to form The Mix in 2016.
Published on 11-Dec-2015
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