Harare, Zimbabwe, 16 May 2017. 17 May 2017 marks International Child Helpline Day.
The global network of child helplines mark the International Child Helpline Day by calling on governments to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular urgently to end all forms of violence against children as Goal 16.2 and related targets oblige Member States to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children…” including physical and sexual violence, mental violence and psychological abuse, and neglect or negligent treatment.
We make reference to the Bangkok Declaration, ratified by the General Assembly of Child helplines gathered in Bangkok (Thailand) on 16th November 2016 for the Eighth International Consultation of Child Helpline International.
Key facts
• Child helplines operating in 142 countries, uphold the child’s right to protection from violence.
• In 2015 child helplines answered nearly 20 million contacts from children and young people worldwide.
• One out of seven contacts concerns abuse and violence.
• Children in disaster areas and conflict zones are at special risk.
• Gender based violence causes several forms of violence against children.
• Child helplines listen, counsel, refer, assist and provide other essential services to children in need.

Governments should:

• Ensure that every child in all countries has information about and access to high quality child helpline support so that children exposed to abuse and violence can be supported and responded to.
• Adopt appropriate legal provisions banning all forms of violence against children and providing for sufficient resources to bring violators to justice.
• Use the voices of children, including the data from child helplines, to further advance the implementation of children’s rights in national child protection.
• Implement target 16.2 of the SDG’s: “End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children” in all settings, including homes and families, schools and institutions, in communities and public spaces.

We furthermore call upon governments as well as our partners in civil society, international agencies and the private sector, including telecoms and other industry partners, to:

• Recognise and communicate that no violence against children is ever justifiable;
• Support the sustainability of child helplines through providing adequate resources to ensure their ability to operate;
• Recognise child helplines’ unique capacity to bring the voices of children out in the public domain to emphasise the situation of children subject to violence.

Childline Zimbabwe, a member of CHI was founded in 1997. This year Childline celebrates its 20th anniversary. Childline opened its doors with one counsellor on a phone with limited calling. In the first year of operation, the organisation received 1500 calls, 57 of which led to social work intervention. Since then Childline has grown to two call centres, one in Harare and another in Bulawayo. Presently, Childline receives over 50 000 calls per month. The 116 Freephone Helpline number is available 24-hours a day, every day of the year.

2016 data from Childline recorded over 609 thousand calls in the Helpline, one in fifty-four of which was a report requiring social worker intervention. Of this total, 9 978 were Child Protection cases pertaining to a form of abuse, either physical, sexual, emotional or neglect 75% of these related to the abuse of girls. In 2016, Childline received 3 690 reports sexual abuse, with 93% of these relating to the abuse of girls. The data also reflected 8 007 Child Welfare reports, with the issues being reported including but not limited to access to education, birth registration, and parent-child relationships.

In the past 20 years Childline has answered 4.5 million calls, 46 803 of which have gone on to require social worker intervention. Childline’s Drop-In Centres have recorded a further 67 948 cases. Childline currently has 50 staff members and 250 volunteers.

‘As we move forward steadily with the implementation of the sustainable development agenda, it is important that national governments and other relevant national, regional and global stakeholders support Child Helpline International.
We must continue to listen carefully to children and act upon their experiences in order to strengthen national child-protection systems and create a world that truly fulfils its commitments to its youngest and most valuable citizens.’
Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children


Child Helpline International is one of the world’s largest collective impact organisations. Our network brings together 181 organisations in 139 countries, and fields millions of contacts a year from children and youth in need of help and guidance. Until our founding in 2003, our members did their work in isolation, with little influence, no access to each other or those in power. We at Child Helpline International are transforming that!
We support the creation of new child helplines and strengthen our network by sharing what we learn from the best of them, with all of them. We also collect and interpret data from our child helpline members. These millions of individual stories form a mosaic of how and where in the world children and young people are suffering injustice, abuse and dangers. We present those stories to policy influencers and effect the changes that improve conditions for children, both at the global and local levels.
Every child has a voice. Our mission is to make their voices heard, respected and acted upon because only when children are heard, they are empowered to participate in society and fulfil their potential.

Child helplines fulfil the child’s fundamental right to be heard. They offer support and guidance to children who, day after day, experience violence, abuse and discrimination, and have no one else to turn to. They represent the most trusted and accessible way for a child to find help.
Children can contact their child helpline in a variety of ways: by phone, or through online technologies, like smartphones and tablets. They can leave their message in specific drop-boxes in schools or community centres or go to the helpline hub and ask for someone to talk to. There are times and circumstances when children may not be able to contact a child helpline. For instance when children live in the street or in some marginalised areas. In all these cases, child helplines do their best to reach out to them and offer the support they need.
No one knows how to make a difference in troubled young lives like the people who listen to these heart-rending stories every day. Through empathic listening, child helpline counsellors guide children towards the resources and the assistance they need, and protect them from further violence and other forms of harm. They advise, inform and empower young kids up to the point where the child himself/herself is ready for actions and reactions. Without their critical job, children would be left unheard.
For more information about Childline, please see the attached Organisational Profile or contact 0731 116 081 or communications.advocacy@childline.org.zw