17 May 2012
Today, Youthline is celebrating the sixth annual International Child Helpline Day run by Child Helpline International (CHI). Coinciding with the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, the theme for this year is: The role of child helplines and technologies in the protection of girls from abuse and violence.
Youthline CEO, Stephen Bell says Youthline is embracing technology to help protect not only girls, but all young people from abuse and violence.
“Abuse and violence are very real issues in all areas of the world today and Youthline is committed to staying on the cutting edge of best practice and technology to ensure we can be there to help young people in vulnerable and dangerous situations,” says Bell.
Over the past few years Youthline has put huge emphasis on technology in a bid to meet young people where they are. In a recent speech made by Prime Minister John Key acknowledged both Youthline and the need to keep on top of technology when working with young people.
“As an example of what technology can do, Youthline made free text messages available to kids in 2007. In just over two years they went from receiving 150 texts a month to 20,000 a month,” said Mr Key.
The rest of the world has followed Youthline’s lead with two Youthline staff members travelling to South Africa in November 2010 to help train helpline representatives on text message support and equip them to establish similar systems in other countries.
Youthline has also recently upgraded their phone system as it could no longer cope with the volume of calls it receives.
In conjunction with all of this, Youthline works in partnership with other specialty call centres, which are housed in the Youthline Ponsonby House. These include the ‘It’s Not Ok’ Family Violence helpline, Victims of Crime, Miscarriage Support and Canterbury Earthquake Support lines.
“These specialised lines provide a much needed service and they greatly contribute toward helping keep all people safe, it’s really valuable for Youthline to be connected to them”.
Over the coming year Youthline will be looking at other technological advances in the digital realm and will be scoping new and improved ways to reach young people including the possibility of an iPhone or android application so that young people can easily access Youthline information via their phones.
“Youthline’s Information, Services and Projects Manager, Nao Guy has recently been appointed to the ’New Technologies Advisory Council’ for Child Helpline International, so we are in the best position possible to keep on top of all the latest and greatest technology to help us in our service provision”.
Of course, staying ahead of technology isn’t easy when money is involved.
“In order to keep doing what we do, we really need the support of generous businesses and individuals – we have been incredibly lucky so far, but as always we will continue to raise more funds to keep abreast of the need”.
To find out more about International Helpline Day click here
To make an online donation to Youthline click here
For more information on Youthline’s digital therapies please contact Stephen Bell: 027 2718151
Phone: 0800 37 66 33