How we got started and where we are today

Thanks to the wonderful, entrepreneurial Jeroo Billimoria, today we are one of the world’s largest international collectives advocating for children and amplifying their voices. Jeroo began working with street children in India in the early 1990s, and saw that they needed more resources, so she gave them her phone number to call if they needed help.

Jeroo’s phone didn’t stop ringing. Her insight and actions led her to establish Childline India – India’s first and only child helpline. News of Childline India’s success in reaching and helping children spread, and demand from many other countries to establish child helplines grew. But rather than simply expanding an existing service, Jeroo saw that a global network of child helplines would leverage the knowledge transfer to countries that wanted to launch their own services.

Today, our 180+ child helpline members around the world field more than 20 million calls, chats, texts, letters and emails from children and young people every year. Children need to talk about their fears, abuse, neglect, violence, poverty and exploitation. Child helplines listen to children, and are uniquely placed to bring timely, pertinent data and stories to the world about children’s lives. Imagine if each helpline were to do this in isolation, with no access to one another, or to global and regional policy makers.

In creating the network of Child Helpline International, Jeroo resolved this dilemma. Today, we make sure the world listens, and we listen to our members, and help them to help one another.

Jeroo talks about the beginnings of our network organisation.

Child helplines listen to children and are uniquely placed to bring data and stories to the world about children’s lives.

We listen to these children and youth and work to keep them safe from harm. Together with our network members, and with helpline data from more than 140 countries, we reshape policy and change children’s lives for the better.

We collect, compile and analyse child helpline data: you can find our reports from the last five years in our publications section. We use our analysis to inform and influence decision makers on the global and regional stages, showing the work of child helplines in numbers and reach. This is a powerful way to show how integral child helplines are to child protection in every setting and geography.

The network of child helplines needs a coordinating backbone, and that is what we do at Child Helpline International. We bring together our members in large bi-annual International Consultations, and in regional meetings. See here for news about the five Regional Consultations happening this year around the world.

All network members collaborate to share knowledge, build capacity, learn from one another and from outside experts and academics.  We are a participatory collective: with peer exchanges, e-learning platforms, tool-kits, manuals and other resources, we share knowledge and experience to strengthen the entire network’s response to children and young people.

Partnerships are crucial to accomplishing our work. In 2017 alone, we have worked with UNICEF in expanding the child helpline, Linea 102, in Argentina, and with UNICEF as well to establish a new helpline in Benin.  With the GSMA we have developed guidelines for helpline counsellors’ use in helping children and young people stay safe and productive online.  And with UNICEF once again we explored the capabilities of child helplines in 17 countries to respond to online sexual exploitation and abuse.

We have partnerships with ECPAT, with Plan International and with the ITU, among many others.

The network needs a coordinating backbone, and that is what we do at Child Helpline International

Our industry partnerships are vibrant and increasingly important for our work. We’ve collaborated with Facebook and with Google to train counsellors in the safe use of social media and search, and are launching an e-learning programme with Telenor in four pilot countries this year.