By autumn children in Russia will have a single dedicated helpline
In 2009 274 telephone providers in 50 regions took part in events to mark International Children’s Helpline Day, according to the Chairperson of the National Foundation against Child Abuse, Marina Yegorova, in a press conference. She said it was not yet clear how many would take part in this year’s events, but 31 regions have already indicated their participation. The events this year will be dedicated to the theme of awareness of telephone help-lines as a first step to safety for children.
From 10 to 17 May schools held a campaign to inform children and their parents about help lines in the regions. Some regions are planning to advertise the children’s helpline numbers on the regional governments’ websites and those of the main media. Ms Yegorova said that regional telephone services took part in informing the public about the help lines near them, using broadcasts and demonstrations of how they work. These help lines make it possible for children to seek help or advice. She said that 3.5% of calls in Russia are about violence or abuse of children. A further 3.3% are about violation of the rights of children. 21% are complaints about problems at home, and another 21% – problems at school. In 13.7% the problems are with peers; while 13.2% phone to talk about social and psychological issues. She stressed that intervention in the family may only take place with the consent of the child. What children report on the telephone needs to be checked, so in most cases the staff of the helpline service try to contact an adult who has contact with the child, and ask them to listen to the child and help them.
The Foundation for Child Support has set up an organisation linking telephone help lines for children all over Russia, according to the Foundation’s chairperson, Marina Gordeeva. It will start work in September- October. These will not be new services, but existing services will be linked into one number. They will not have to give up their existing numbers, however. The number for the new service is not yet known. But it will start with 8-800.