London: The GSMA has marked the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)1 by forming a partnership with Child Helpline International (CHI) to protect young people and safeguard their right to be heard. The GSMA and CHI have signed an agreement that establishes a roadmap for promoting child helplines across the globe, including measures to strengthen relationships between national mobile operators and their in-country helplines and foster collaboration on issues such as a safer Internet for children.
“Child Helpline International’s mission is to ensure that every call is answered, so every child in need of being heard can be heard. The GSMA is committed to playing its part in achieving this important goal,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA. “The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was established in 1989, which is also the year that the World Wide Web was born. Increasingly, children around the world are using mobile phones to access the Internet, for social networking and apps, as well as to make calls and send texts. Our partnership with Child Helpline International will reinforce the ongoing efforts of mobile operators to protect and support young people’s safety in our connected society.”
Nenita La Rose, Executive Director, Child Helpline International, said: “Every two seconds a child reaches out to a child helpline. Unfortunately 50 per cent of these calls for help remain unheard because child helplines often lack the resources to answer every call. As children and young people need access to communication technology to reach vital child helpline services, mobile operators are important stakeholders. I am delighted to formalise this crucial partnership with the GSMA by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on our shared goal to answer every call from every child.”
GSMA operator members who have pledged to support child helplines in their markets include Airtel, Avea, Axiata, Bouygues, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Digicel, KDDI, KT, Millicom, NTT DOCOMO, Nuevatel, Ooredoo, Orange, SK Telecom, STC, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telekom Austria, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Telstra, VimpelCom, Vodafone and Zain. Existing and potential commitments amongst the mobile operators include, for example: assisting in the establishment of a helpline if none exists nationally; increasing awareness of helplines; and providing in-kind support or sponsorship. Commitments will vary by operator and by market.
Last month, CHI launched the ‘Free Our Voices’ campaign to generate public support for child helplines internationally. Utilising custom sound recognition technology, visitors to the campaign website can sign the petition by verbally recording their name, instead of the usual written or digital signature. Find out more at www.freeourvoices.org.
On 1 November, GSMA launched a 20-day countdown to the 25th anniversary of the CRC on its website. Each day, an inspirational individual or organisation that protects or promotes the rights of children in today’s digital world has been spotlighted. Visit www.gsma.com/publicpolicy/myouth/rights-of-the-child/20-day-countdown-calendar.
Video clip of Jon Fredrik Baksaas, Chairman of the GSMA and President and CEO of Telenor Group, commenting on GSMA’S partnership with Child Helpline International:
Operator Support for Partnership with Child Helpline International
Airtel Africa – Christian de Faria, Chief Executive Officer:
“Despite the profound benefits of the Internet and advancements in mobile technology today, we understand that children can face a host of risks when using information and communications technology. This partnership reinforces Airtel’s commitment towards contributing to the global, coordinated response required in tackling the challenges associated with children’s online safety, by jointly taking a proactive action for the benefit of our children in Africa.”
Bharti Airtel – Gopal Vittal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (India and South Asia):
“Bharti Airtel is happy to partner GSMA and Child Helpline International (CHI) in their vision to answer every call made by a child thereby safeguarding his/her right to be heard. We are certain that this will help child protection and provide timely support and safety to children thereby improving their health, survival, dignity and overall development in a connected India.”
China Unicom – Lu Yimin, President and Vice Chairman:
“China Unicom is keen to support the initiative. Since 2005, with the collaboration with the related governmental institutes and the other telecom operators in China, China Unicom has voluntarily provided the toll-free woman and child helplines, and already expanded to most cities in China at the moment.”
Deutsche Telekom – Timotheus Höttges, Chief Executive Officer:
“As an integral part of our corporate responsibility, we aspire that children benefit from positive use of technology. This includes that children can seek help in case of, for example, cyber-bullying. Therefore, we have established long standing partnerships with helpline organisations and support them in many of our markets. We are pleased to continue our support and expand it to further markets within this joint initiative, which can also include CHI members.”
KDDI – Tadashi Onodera, Chairman:
“Since 2007, KDDI has contributed to ChildLine in Japan by supporting marketing activities and training for helpline counsellors. This year, our support will focus on new research into the main issues affecting children and young people.
“Over the last nine years, KDDI has also delivered lectures on safer mobile use at more than 10,000 elementary and junior high schools in Japan and received a lot of positive feedback from children, schoolteachers, parents and the media. Children can also find ChildLine’s number on our lecture flyers. Mobile phones are an important communication tool for children in Japan; we believe it is our responsibility as a mobile operator to guide them in the use of feature phones and smartphones for their own safety and protection.”
KT – Chang-Gyu Hwang, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer:
“KT has been providing support for child and youth helpline in conjunction with local authorities and NGOs in South Korea. Going a step further, we are currently contemplating on uniting the child helpline and the national crime report number for broader and easier access. KT will continue to support the well-being of children and youth while leveraging the state-of-the-art ICT technologies and infrastructures.”
Millicom – Hans-Holger Albrecht, President and Chief Executive Officer:
“Millicom welcomes the GSMA / Child Helpline International initiative and is proud to be supporting child helplines in many of our markets already. Child protection is one of the focus areas of our corporate responsibility strategy, and so we look forward to supporting this initiative further with partnerships in new markets that raise awareness of helplines and allow free access to those in need.”
NTT DOCOMO – Kaoru Kato, President and Chief Executive Officer:
“NTT DOCOMO supports this GSMA proposal. We have been putting a lot of efforts into creation of a society where children can live safely and comfortably through the capabilities mobile can provide, such as development of mobile phones specifically designed for children, or provision of filtering service.
“Likewise, we fully understand how important child helplines are for the creation of a society that listens and takes children’s voices seriously, as well as for measures ensuring that there are places where they can feel safe mentally and psychologically. NTT DOCOMO intends to contribute toward the activities of ChildLine Japan in many different ways.”
Ooredoo – Dr. Nasser Marafih, Group Chief Executive Officer:
“As a company that strongly believes that young people should be given a full range of life chances, Ooredoo is pleased to extend our support to this programme. Child helplines can provide a vital point of contact for young people in need, and Ooredoo will strive to support them across our footprint in the MENA region and Southeast Asia. We have already helped to launch toll-free child helplines in Qatar and the Maldives, and have plans in place to provide further support across our footprint.”
Telecom Italia – Marco Patuano, Chief Executive Officer:
“We welcome this partnership between GSMA and Child Helpline International as it reinforces our ongoing effort to safeguard the rights of children. In our commitment to protect the youngest we have undertaken several initiatives with public and private stakeholders – including long standing partnerships with UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, national and international institutions – aimed at preventing potential abuses and informing children, parents and teachers on the risks connected with the new technologies and navigation on the Internet.”
Telefónica – Carlos López Blanco, Global Head, Public and Regulatory Affairs:
“Telefónica is a global company that provides support to child helplines across our footprint in Europe and Latin America. This agreement between GSMA and CHI reinforces our commitment to children and young people. Telefónica actively supports positive uses of technology to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of children.”
Telenor Group – Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and Chief Executive Officer:
“Across the globe children and youngsters increasingly go online. Access to mobile phones and internet enriches their lives and provides opportunities for all. At the same time it also presents some challenges. Telenor works systematically across its markets with both of these sides of mobile access. Our commitment to toll free child helplines is an important part of this effort. So far, we are supporting child helplines in Norway, Sweden, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Malaysia. Our ambition is to expand this service to all our operations.”
TeliaSonera – Johan Dennelind, Chief Executive Officer:
“In every school class there is someone who is feeling lonely or even being bullied. Today many young people face these offensive situations on-line. I think it’s great if we as telecom operators can help children in need to get contact with an adult and get listened to.”
VimpelCom – Joe Lunder, Chief Executive Officer:
“At VimpelCom, we believe that every child has a right to be heard, and today we commit to ensuring that free calls to child helplines will be available on a non-exclusive basis in all of our markets within 12 months.”
Vodafone – Paolo Bertoluzzo, Group Chief Commercial and Operations Officer:
“Vodafone has supported child helplines for many years with the aim of making it easier for young people to get access to the advice and support they need. Vodafone aims to provide simple and effective advice and tools for parents and children to enable them to be confidently connected and benefit from the opportunities that the digital world can offer.”
Zain Group – Scott Gegenheimer, Chief Executive Officer:
“Zain is committed to the safety and well-being of the communities it serves. In an era where technology and telecommunications have the potential to significantly impact societies across the world, Zain recognizes the need to ensure that children across the region are protected from abuse and exploitation. We believe that now more than ever, multi-stakeholder partnerships such as CHI are of great importance and together we will all strive towards placing the protection of vulnerable segments of society at the core of our sustainable CSR programs.”
Notes to Editors
1 The CRC, agreed in 1989, was the first example of human rights being framed specifically with regard to children. CHI defines child helplines according to the CRC: “Child helplines are help and support services for children, run by civil society organisations and also in some cases government bodies; Child helplines base their work on the principles of the CRC. The CRC spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. The CRC also specifically gives children the right to be heard and to express their views without fear of harm or reprisal.”
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai and the Mobile 360 Series conferences.
For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com. Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.
About Child Helpline International
Child Helpline International (CHI) is a global network of 191 child helplines in 145 countries (October 2014), which together receive approximately 14 million contacts per year from children and young people in need of care and protection. CHI supports the creation and strengthening of national toll-free child helplines worldwide and uses child helpline data and knowledge to highlight gaps in child protection systems and advocate for the rights of children. To find out more about CHI and its work, visit www.childhelplineinternational.org. Follow CHI on Twitter: @CHIamsterdam.
For the GSMA
Charlie Meredith-Hardy, Weber Shandwick London
+44 7917 298 428
GSMA Press Office
For Child Helpline International
Bryony Stentiford, Marketing and Communications Officer
+31 (0)20 528 9625