Child helpline receives many calls regarding abuse between children

Child helpline (
Child helpline ( Source: ERR

The Child helpline (Lasteabi) is receiving an increasing number of calls regarding abuse between children, although police statistics indicate a drop in youth crime.

The number of calls to the Child helpline surged in October as youth violence remains a chronic issue.

Especially within the last two weeks the calls reporting physical abuse and confrontations among children have increased, Mari-Liis Mand, the head of child welfare prevention services at the Social Insurance Board, said.

"Children frequently call themselves, asking what they can do to help themselves or others. This has happened more in the last few weeks, and their stories tend to be quite serious," she said.

Child helpline has received more than 11,000 calls this year, the majority of which have been to report child abuse.

There is no clear explanation for why this year's surge in calls has been so steep.

"Whether the crises that have occurred throughout the past years have increased the stress levels of youngsters, who find it increasingly difficult to control their emotions and moods? If you lack the required expertise and skills, you will be unable to handle these situations well," Mänd explained.

Despite an increase in the number of calls to the Child helpline year after year, police report that the number of youth offenses has not increased.

"The number of crimes committed by minors is now at its lowest in a decade -- 2.5 times lower than it was historically. Perhaps, the various activities and approaches of the Estonian state were successful," Teili Piiskoppel, the head of the Police and Border Guard Board's East Tallinn regional group, said.

It is unfortunate that youth violence tends to reach social media before the police, Piiskoppel added. Support measures have been put in place to alleviate the problem since this year.

"The introduction of online police officers [tasked mainly with providing advice] who will be present, if not at every police station, then in every county, has proven to be an effective measure," Piiskoppel said.

Contact the Child helpline at 116111 at any time of day to report a child in need.
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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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