“Every child has the right to be heard”.
Three young women from the Nether-lands, Maartje Nieuwenhuisen, Mariken Schenkels and Loes Goossens, came to Statia to work on their graduation project for the HBO “Sociaal Pedagogisch Werk”.
Assigned by Mrs. Felicia Schmidt of the Voogdijraad, they set up a Child Help Line for Sint Eustatius. In Holland they came in touch with Child Helpline International (‘CHI’), which is a worldwide organization cooperating with 126 countries.
From left to right Loes Goossens, Mariken Schenkels en Maartje Nieuwenhuizen
CHI sets guidelines for countries that want to start a Child Help Line. The three girls visited all the schools on Statia to talk about the Child Help Line. All the principals and the children they spoke to were very enthusiastic about the idea. Especially because the community is so small and everybody knows each other, the children were very happy about the idea that they are anonymous when they call the Child Help Line.
The girls also met with the child care institutions and with Eu-tel. Eu-tel will provide a free telephone number and a team is formed that will be responsible for the Child Help Line. Members of the team are: Mrs. Arlene Spanner – Schmidt, Mrs. Cecilia Gittens – Roosberg and Mrs. Raquel Carty, all professionals working in the field of interest.
What is a Child Helpline?
A Child Help Line is a toll-free telephone number that children of the ages from 8 to 18 can call when they want to talk about something. All calls are confidential and anonymous, and the person who answers the phone is a professional, trained by CHI. Children can talk about anything, no problem is too small or too big for the Child Help Line.
Cooperation with Aruba.
Because of the need for anonymity, the Child Help Line team decided to cooperate with Aruba. The already existing Child Help Line in Aruba will be extended to support the youth of Statia.
How will the Child Helpline work?
The team on Statia will make a “sociale kaart” (list of all ‘social institutions’, listing addresses, phone-numbers, short description etc.) of Statia. That will help the volunteers in Aruba to get a clear view of what problems they can expect. A child that calls the toll-free Child Help Line will be answered by a volunteer in Aruba. Aruba has contacts with the team on Statia. They will report to the team and when certain problems appear often, they can take necessary steps to try and change the situation.
Child Helpline International, help for all children in the world ...
In the coming months, the free number will be known to all children. There will be radio and television commercials about the Child Help Line and children will be invited to call. They will be assured that the telephone call is confidential and anonymous and that they can talk about anything.