Young lives on the line, but it takes money to answer the call
Childline battles a funding shortage in its fight to remain a voice for abused children
Ninety-two counsellors answer about 35,000 calls per month from South African children reaching out for help.
Forty-two of them are volunteers.
Ahead of International Child Helpline Day on Thursday, Childline SA, which has been in operation since 1986, shared its statistics report with Times Select.
Last year more than 402,000 calls were made to the helpline by mostly girls. Teenagers aged between 13 and 15 made the most calls.
Most children called for information about Childline’s services while a quarter of the callers reported abuse, bullying and grooming.
Other children spoke to counsellors about family relationship problems, legal issues, problems at school, substance abuse, poverty, behavioural issues and HIV-Aids.Childline KwaZulu-Natal operations manager Adeshini Naicker said helplines acted as a voice for abused children.
“Helplines play a major role in protecting our children against abuse. This data is used to advocate for children’s rights and safety throughout the world.
“Millions of people don’t even know that helplines exist. By commemorating International Child Helpline Day, people will become aware of the services provided as well as be educated on the increasing statistics of child abuse, forcing people to pay attention and take action against the scourge of child abuse,” she said.
She said Childline KwaZulu-Natal’s main challenge was insufficient funding to employ more counsellors.Childline is primarily funded by ad-hoc donations from corporations and parastatals.
“With the influx of non-profit organisations, funding continues to be an increasing challenge for us. We also currently struggle to reach deep rural areas due to limited resources,” she said.
The Africa regional specialist of child protection organisation End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, Violet Odala, said child helplines are available in more than 30 countries on the continent.“That is quite a significant number of countries, but apart from raising more awareness, more resources need to be invested in child helplines so that there’s enough staffing and no call or contact made by a child is left unattended to.”
She said International Child Helpline Day was a way of acknowledging the significance of child helplines as well as raising awareness on their existence globally.
“Different countries engage in various activities with children on this day that are context-specific, based on the theme of the year, and this helps to raise the voices of children.”