Date: 5. October 2020
Time to read: 2 min
Week of the Child is celebrated from 5 to 11 October. This year it is marked by the 30th anniversary of TOM Telephone, a helpline for children and adolescents, and its slogan: Conversation is the answer.
During that week, friends of youth associations organise various leisure and entertainment activities for children in all larger towns across Slovenia. The week is also being celebrated in schools and kindergartens.
TOM Telephone helpline for children and adolescents celebrates its 30th anniversary
The TOM Telephone helpline operates within the Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth (SAFY). It was established in 1990 at the initiative of the SAFY Committee for the Rights of the Child. Five years later, the TOM national network was established, connecting around 200 trained counsellors and enabling them to help children and adolescents throughout Slovenia who are facing various issues, dilemmas or situations of distress via a single toll-free telephone number. The most common topics encountered via TOM Telephone are peers, family and love.
2020 has been a year of change for everyone. The struggle against the COVID-19 epidemic has become a part of our everyday lives. Following the measures to contain the spread of infections, taking care of our health and limiting contacts are now a part of our present and in such circumstances talking to someone is very important, particularly for adolescents, who are in a very intense and sensitive period of growing up.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, the TOM Telephone counsellors have noticed an increase in contacts related to mental health, namely loneliness, fear, depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. TOM Telephone has had a significant role in counselling and helping children and adolescents in situations of distress during this time.
Therefore, during this year's Week of the Child, SAFY will be particularly focusing on the slogan Conversation is the answer. In honour of the 30th anniversary of TOM Telephone, an exhibition entitled Conversation is the answer is also being organised in collaboration with the Museum of Post and Telecommunications.
Children can reach TOM Telephone via the telephone number 116 111, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or an online chat room.
Safe points in Slovenia
There are over 750 UNICEF safe points in Slovenia. They are located in 105 localities throughout the country.
Children who find themselves in a difficult situation, who need counselling or are in a situation of distress can seek help at UNICEF safe points throughout the entire year. UNICEF safe points are located at various public spaces such as libraries, insurance companies, pharmacies, florists, youth centres, shops and similar places where people are trained to help children.
Children can recognise those points by a special sign depicting a smiling house that is visibly affixed near the entrance thereto.
Slovenia was the first country in the world to establish mobile safe points.
As of October 2019, all city buses of the Ljubljana public transport company (LPP) are UNICEF safe points, so children can also seek help, protection or counselling on the bus. In September 2020, Nova Gorica followed suit and introduced four mobile safe points on Nomago city buses, among other newly established safe points.
Every year, hundreds of children resort to safe points all across Slovenia. According to UNICEF, a safe environment means a safe and happier experience growing up.
Let the Week of the Child be a reminder that each child has the right to survival and development, to education, to a life without violence and abuse, to participate in society and to be heard.