UN agency calls for global child helpline telephone number
In a bid to make it easier for children around the world to call for support and counselling, the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has asked all countries to link child helplines to one telephone number.
The proposed global child helpline number – 116 111 – is already in use in a number of countries and was recommended by Child Helpline International (CHI), an organization that represents child helplines globally.
CHI data shows that children and young people made more than 10.5 million calls to child helplines in both 2005 and 2006, giving children access to support, counselling, referral and intervention.
“Child helplines have become a lifeline for vulnerable children in many countries,” Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said.
“Having a single number that will work everywhere will benefit children in need around the world. As the number becomes embedded in the global consciousness, more and more children will profit,” he added.
The ITU called on all telecommunications administrations around the world to consider the allocation of the number 116 111 to give access to helplines run by organizations dedicated to the welfare of children.
In countries where there are a variety of numbers used for helplines, the ITU suggests that the new number could be introduced in parallel with the existing numbers, and where there are no current helplines, the organization proposes using the 116 111 number for any future projects.
116 111 is already being used in several European countries, including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Sweden.