A new service model online to support children’s victims of violence, neglect, and abuse

Child Help Line a crucial tool to support victims of child abuse.

UNICEF Albania
20 December 2021
girl in phone
ChildHelpLine/Albania/2021

It is not just adults who profoundly perceive uncertainties and worries about the future, but also children and adolescents who often find themselves alone and without reference points. Stories of sexual abuse, stories of loneliness, of bullying among friends but also within the family environment are filing the monthly reports of the ALO 116, the national child helpline, UNICEF has been supporting since 2010.

Jeta (name changed to protect her privacy) is just barely 16 years old. She lives with her mother, but their relationship has been quite tense for many reasons. “I have been molested by two men, one 50 and the other 20 years old. They both asked me to go out with them. I refused, and now they are threatening me. They have gone so far as opening a fake Instagram account using my pictures. They know where I live, and I am terrified.” - confess Jeta.

“This is one of the routine calls I receive on monthly basis. When in trouble, ideally children confess to their parents or friends. However, parents are not always there and nor do they know how to listen and support their children” says Elona, helpline counselor.

Every year more than 31874 children, parents, teachers have reached out for help at Alo116 111.  Out of these numbers, 2365 children received psychological support, and 1047 reported cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Elona, the counselor, explained that the file of the girl was assessed, and the case was referred to the respective child protection institutions. The Child Help Line, in cooperation with the Cybercrime Office, the State Police, and Facebook are working to identify more detailed information that will allow them to protect this girl from online abuse. The case is still under investigation.

The Child Help Line supports children and young people through their difficult experiences by providing them with needed information, guidance, and counseling. Active listening in the Child Help Line is the key element of the services offered by the center that enables an understanding of the discomfort of those asking for help.

In response to the increased demand for more diversified care and protection, caused by the multiple national lockdowns because of the Covid19 pandemic, UNICEF supported the Albanian National Child Helpline - ALO 116 111 to launch the “Raporto Tani/Report Now”, a first of its kind web-based reporting platform in the country.

The portal allows children to report any type of violation of a child's rights at any time of day, and from anywhere in Albania, using a variety of tools. Children can report cases of violence, abuse, or bullying via the online www.alo116.al platform and the ALO116111 smartphone app, with a single click or touch.

The platform shows all the steps children and adolescents need to follow to make a timely and accurate report. To date, the portal has been used by 230 children and youth in Albania and visited 1200 times.

*** Strengthening the national Child Helpline to expand support to children victims of violence is part of the program ‘Mitigation of the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of children and parents in the Western Balkans and Turkey’ which has received funding from the European Union.”