The International Center La Strada Moldova announces that from January 1, 2019, the center is no longer implementing the free phone counseling service for children (Child Helpline) 116 111. The institution took this decision, determined by the development strategy of the organization, the activity of La Strada Children's Program, and also by the unique experience gained by the program specialists.
From the idea to the vocation of being always around
La Strada supported the idea of creating a phone counseling service for children from the very first moment. We have brought this service to the Republic of Moldova, since in our opinion only the child can tell us what are his problems and difficulties, how serious they are and, in many cases, the child is able to suggest the most appropriate solutions for these problems. Today, we are proud that the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection has entrusted us with this honorable responsibility to implement the Child Helpline.
Although we are a non-governmental organization that protects and promotes women's rights, our interaction with children has been, from the very beginning, predictable, inevitable. Initially, it was an indirect relationship. Some of our beneficiaries - women victims of domestic violence and sexual violence - were mothers and their children became collateral victims of different forms of abuse. It was an obvious development. The contact with the children of La Strada beneficiaries and the launch of the Children's Program later taught us, better than any theoretical background, that abuse does not mean only physical abuse and that the children's problems are not limited to the problems in their families. That's why we supported, promoted, and contributed to the establishment of this service.
We have heard tens of thousands of children's voices; we listened to their silence, jokes, questions and protests, fears, crying, dreams and wishes. We have learned from them to listen with patience, to guide with care. And we have to admit that the children told us where we were wrong, when we failed trying to help them. It is an extremely valuable experience for all of us.
Due to the lessons learnt while implementing the Child Helpline, the Children's Program has continued to develop and set up appropriate initiatives to protect the children from abuse and exploitation.
Together safe online
At the same time, it became more obvious that the siguronline.md platform and the activities related to the promotion of children safety online were requiring more and more efforts and resources.
Ana REVENCO, the Executive Director of the International Center La Strada explains this decision: “Today, the subject of online safety in the Republic of Moldova is not enough understood, and not identified as a priority. There are few specialists trained and got ready to provide support and clear prevention tools, especially specialized assistance. More and more children are at risk of being exposed online: on the one hand, an increase in the amount of child sexual abuse materials is noticed, but on the other hand, the age of the children affected by the negative impact of these contents, unfortunately, is continuously decreasing. That is a global trend.
These are the reasons why we decided to invest and further develop this area in the framework of La Strada Children’s Program. We will continue to create accessible mechanisms to keep children and teenagers as far as possible from the risks of being abused online. We will develop useful tools for parents, teachers and educators who want to educate a generation of digitally intelligent, sociable, creative children, but informed and smart online. We will use all of our experience to mobilize as many public and private institutions as possible to build national and international partnerships for the best interest of the child and children’s safety on the Internet, to prevent sexual abuse and sexual exploitation online, to provide psychological and legal assistance in this area," mentioned Ana REVENCO.
La Strada Executive Director also mentioned that the Child Helpline would remain in good hands, since the counseling team, established four and a half years ago, is a professional one. Ana Revenco is confident that the young beneficiaries will still find in the counselors of the Child Helpline service true friends and help whenever they need it.
From its launch and until December 31, 2018 the Child Helpline registered 30969 calls. It is to be noticed that only in 2018 the service registered 5853 calls, of which 4298 unique calls and 1555 repeated calls. If at the beginning the number of information calls was significant, in time the content of phone conversations has become more relevant, proving that the main beneficiary – the child – trusts this service and needs it.
The Child Helpline was established on June 4, 2014 and is a public service of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Moldova. From its launch and until December 31, 2018 the service was implemented by the International Center La Strada under a services contract. The dynamics and specifics of calls and the most recent info related to the activity of the Child Helpline are reflected in the Activity Report of the Child Helpline for 2018.