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May 17, International Child Helpline DayThere are many reasons why children dial the free SOS phone line 0800 1 22 22. Perhaps it’s about a problem or they just need to talk to someone. Children are one of the most disadvantaged groups in the society because of the lack of information, support and help when they need it the most. It's good to know that only by dialing one number we can get the help we need. Today it's easy to get in touch with people in order to get help. Child helplines are an important mechanism to connect to children and enable the voice of each and every boy and girl to be heard.

17th of May is declared as International Helpline Day for the children. We celebrate the fact that there’s no child left alone. The children have the possibility to use telephones, computers, radio programmes and TV and more different ways to get help and support.

The Child Helpline in Macedonia, functions as SOS telephone for children and young people (0800 1 22 22) as a service of the First Children’s Embassy in the World-Megjashi. This is the first free SOS telephone for children and young people in the country, which continuously operates for more than 15 years. So far, more than 16.000 children and young people have called us for problems related to violence (physical, sexual and psychological), family issues, love problems, personal problems and other. They recognize the free SOS telephone for children and young people as a mean that will provide them a psychological or legal support. This service is provided by students and professionals in the field of psychology, law and social work, all on the voluntary basis. At the same, in the process of our intervention the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi is addressing and cooperating with the relevant institutions such as the Ombudsman, the District Attorney, the Centers for Social Services, and if needed, our intervention is directed to the police, to the courts, and other institutions. 

So far, we have received 17.047 calls on the free SOS telephone since 1992. In 2007, we have 361 calls registered. The reason because children called were problems related to family relations (24, 62) violence and child abuse (13, 43), economic exploitation/prostitution, paedophilia, financial problems (7, 46). You can find more information on our internet site: http://www.childrensembassy.org.mk/?ItemID.

The biggest part of the callers consists of females, although there is no great difference from the calls made by males.

Generally speaking, the problems related to the family relations were: family abuse, divorces, generational differences between parents and children, dysfunctional family relations (alcoholism, difficult social status…).In the most cases, the child abuse happened at the schools, in the family, or on the street. Compared with the previous year, the percentage of calls about family relations has increased (for 15,36%), about commercial child exploitation (for 7,43%), sexuality (5,49 % , but in 2006 ……..).In the same time, the number of calls about school problems has decreased (for 3,57%), love relations (for 13,12%), or about information for SOS number for 7,93 %) etc.

The free SOS telephone is part of an international network Child Helpline International. CHI is working in over 160 countries to provide comfort, help and support to children in need of care and protection. They are using information and communication technology to enable even the most marginalised to reach out for help.

7 years old boy and his mother were victims of physical attacks of his father/husband who's intoxicated with alcohol. Their neighbor is the witness who dials the free number and the boy and his mother get the help they need.