Childline South Africa is an affiliation of nine Provincial Childline offices. The National Office, based in Durban, plays a supportive, co-ordinating and capacity building role to the provincial offices. Improving service delivery to the children of South Africa, as well as providing vital data to government and partners that assist in the planning and development of services.
Childline offers a twenty-four (24) hour operational Helpline seven days a week. The telephone has a special role in allowing children to communicate in their way and their own time, allowing them to feel in control, allowing them to discuss dangers and difficulties in a way that would be “risky” with face-to-face contact. The Helpline through the assistance of trained and experienced counsellors listen to many children throughout the country to help them understand what they feel. Listening and helping also makes it possible to involve children and young people in planning their futures and by recording and publishing their views and wishes to influence the lives of many more who are unable to talk on their behalf.
The Childline helpline functions as both a prevention and early intervention service, offering communities a service they can contact for counselling, information and guidance before a situation develops to a stage where statutory or tertiary interventions are required. It also enables communities that are far from service providers access to the child protection system.
Along with the helpline, Childline also offers Online Counselling. This service is operational from Monday – Friday between 11:00 – 13:00 and 14:00 – 18:00. The Online Counselling Service aims to offer the same prevention and early intervention services through the use of electronic communication open to children and youth, including adults with concerns about children.
This service is complementary to the Childline Helpline, it extends our reach to children and adults with speech and hearing disabilities. The service provides a safe and confidential medium for children and young people to access counselling and information at no cost, other than the data used to access the mobile-friendly website. It has been noted that chats on the system last longer than calls to the Helpline; ranging between thirty (30) minutes to over an hour, based on the risk posed to the child, thus there is a core focus on counselling.
Furthermore, the helpline also assists in collecting statistical data on the well-being of children in South Africa. Through this an understanding can be formulated like challenges they face on a day to day basis, the response or lack of response from the institutions that are in place to provide help to them and to a greater degree, we are also understanding the challenges faced by caregivers in their parenting roles.