Bhutan needs a 3-digit, toll-free 24-hour helpline for children. If the government of Bhutan supports the establishment of this service, the child helpline in Bhutan has the potential to reach nearly 4,500 children throughout the country every year with the existing technological infrastructure.
To reach this number of children, the government should:
· Collaborate with NGOs in Bhutan to work towards establishing a child helpline.
· Collaborate with the relevant telecoms regulator and providers in Bhutan to ensure the national helpline receives a toll-free, 3-digit number so that neither the helpline nor the child needs to pay for accessing helpline services.
· Provide support to establish and maintain the service.
· Ensure the helpline is a 24-hour service.
· Ensure the helpline primarily caters to the needs of children.
· Facilitate the collaboration of the helpline with other child-focused NGOs and state alliances, such as the police, health, and social welfare systems to enhance its intervention and follow-up model; thus, ensuring the long-term rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection.
· Ensure the child helpline has an outreach component for the most marginalised child, and allocate funds to provide services in non-accessible areas.
· Collaborate with NGOs to ensure that children are aware of and can access the helpline.
In Bhutan, there is currently no national child helpline. There are however plans to establish a complaints and response mechanism to act on abuse and violence against children in the country. UNICEF and the National Commission for Women and Children are keen to explore ways to internalise a child helpline in this mechanism to better reach out to children in need of care and protection.
For more information, please contact Child Helpline International:
Child Helpline International
Tel: + 31 (0)20 528 9625
Fax: + 31 (0)20 638 7655