Particularly alarming topics in the increased incoming calls - 1st Semester 2021

15 July 2021


Athens, 15 July 2021


Particularly alarming topics in the increased incoming calls - 1st Semester 2021:
Suicidal Ideation, Domestic Violence and increased Run-away Cases

"The Smile of the Child" warns of pandemic’s impact on the lives of children and their families, pointing out the major increase in calls from:

●  Children who expressed suicidal ideation
●  Children who got abused
●  Teenagers who ran away from home


"The Smile of the Child" held a Press Conference, at the “Panhellenic Medical Emergency & Social Interaction Coordination Center - Andreas Yannopoulos” at Agia Paraskevi on Thursday, 15 July 2021, during which the Organization informed the public of worrisome trends in issues affecting supported children and their families in the first half of 2021.

The Organization continued to maintain a high level of responsiveness to the rising calls to the three Helplines it operates:

● National Helpline for Children SOS 1056
● European Hotline for Missing Children 116000
● European Helpline for Children and Adolescents 116111

Through new initiatives, partnerships and innovative services, the Organization responded quickly and mobilized immediately its infrastructure for every new request. However, the rising trends in children’s needs are concerning.

The President of “The Smile of the Child”, Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, stated: "Consistent to our principles of transparency and accountability to Greek society, we present our statistics for the first half of 2021. During this period, marked by the coronavirus pandemic, we had to be efficient while also offering quality services in response to the ever-increasing needs of children and their families. Thanks to your constant support, the superhuman efforts of our experienced staff and cooperation with state authorities, we were able to offer free-of-charge support to 23.878 children and their families.” “In the midst of difficult conditions exacerbated by the pandemic, the Organization dealt with serious cases involving missing children, children with suicidal thoughts or mental health issues and women who faced domestic violence", stressed Mr. Yannopoulos. "Today we are here not only to quote figures, but to also shed light on what lies behind these numbers: the collateral damage of the pandemic to children and their families. We must join forces to effectively address these issues. As our young founder, Andreas, said: "if we all unite we will succeed". Our strong belief is that we should keep operating in this way, complementing the work of the institutions. We can help authorities meet the ever-increasing demands, by offering training in collaboration with international bodies and filling gaps. As an example, we train Municipal Police staff on a protocol that ensures the fastest possible recovery of missing young people and adults. We are very proud that on May 25th on the occasion of the International Missing Children Day, we brought together the Hellenic Police, the Fire Brigade and other authorities with "front line" workers who deal with such cases.”

"The Smile of the Child" further presented initiatives to combat sexual abuse, bullying, cyberbullying, and domestic violence.

● Active participation in the campaign running by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
● Campaign “It-Remains-A-Secret” under the auspices of H.E. the President of the Greek Republic and an online resolution following multiple complaints of sexual intimidation and abuse.
● Awareness actions such the "We stay online safely" on the occasion of the Safe Internet Day.
● Informative actions such as the "Tell me they're bullying you" on the occasion of the National School Day against School Violence and Bullying.
● Participation in the campaign "Stop Bullying" - a strong message conveyed through collectible stamps issued in collaboration with the Hellenic Post (ELTA).

Special emphasis was given to the new activities and services that were designed and implemented by the Organization in response to the pandemic crisis. Specifically:

“Panhellenic Medical Emergency & Social Interaction Coordination Center - Andreas Yannopoulos” at Agia Paraskevi where all free-of-charge services of the Organization are housed in Attica.
Setup of 12 Second-hand Clothing Centers for the management and care of used garment with the valuable support of “Pitsos S.A.” The Pitsos Company donated washing machines and dryers so that all second-hand garments sent to the Organization by supporters undergo thorough processing to reach an excellent ready-to-wear condition before being delivered to families in need. The 12 new Centers for the management and care of used clothing, are co-located with the Child & Family Support Centers in Attica, Nea Makri, Thessaloniki, Patras, Larissa, Heraklion, Pyrgos, Tripoli, Corinth, Chalkida, Chania and Rethymnon.
● Launch of new app Chat 1056, a novel and safe way of communication through texting, for children and young people.
● Operation of the “Academy of Education and Training Smile Academy”, operating both in person and virtually, which aims to develop skills, abilities, life attitudes and habits of young and old. Leading specialists guide children, parents and guardians, teachers and professionals, through developing modern skills to help bring people closer together and to help them effectively participate in society.
● Strategic cooperation with the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens with the main goal of implementing Pediatric Home Treatment Programs for children with serious and chronic health problems.
● Acquisition of a new Mobile Medical Unit (Ambulance) of Neonatal & Pediatric Intensive Care. The Minister for Development & Investment, Mr. Adonis Georgiadis, attended the delivery ceremony. The new Unit is used for the transfer of new-borns and children in northern Greece, thus strengthening the National Health System and substantially contributing to the fight against Covid-19. The New Mobile Unit was acquired within the framework of the project "Integrated Territorial Synergies for Children's Health and Protection II (INTERSYC II)" of the European territorial Cooperation Program "Interreg V - A "GreeceBulgaria 2014-2020", co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and national resources of the participating countries.
● Launch of the safe web navigation program "Get Digital" in Greece, in exclusive partnership with Facebook.
● Operation of "NetAcad" as part of the “Academy of Education and Training Smile Academy.”
● Opening of the 2nd Social Polyclinic for Children named after George Caraivaz and inaugurated by “The Smile of the Child” at its headquarters, honoring thousands of donors who made contributions in memory of the late crime journalist.

The scientific staff of the Organization further analysed the statistics regarding prevention, intervention and treatment, stressing that there was a serious increase in calls to the 3 Helplines asking for help in issues of Violence and Abuse. The majority of calls referred to issues involving boys and were primarily initiated by girls.

It seems that child sexual abuse still remains a taboo, especially when it has to do with reports of abuse by young males who are hesitant or reluctant to reveal their abuse.

In the first half of 2021, “The Smile of the Child” provided services to:

10.453 children in the field of violence
194 children & 38 adults in the field of disappearances
2.725 children involving health issues
10.506 children facing poor living conditions

According to the presented data, cases of children at risk rapidly increased in the first half of 2021, compared to the first half of 2020, especially in cases involving violence:

144% in interventions involving management of the pandemic
27.78% in interventions to parents / guardians, addressing sexual abuse
41.29% in anonymous and branded reports involving children at risk received at the “SOS 1056 National Hotline for Children” - However, rates of sexual abuse reports remain extremely low.
41.38% in anonymous and named reports for teens received at the “SOS 1056 National Hotline for Children”
1.000% on calls from female victims of domestic violence
64% in the number of children from 0 to 6 years for whom on-site intervention was carried out
81.69% for children who have been abused
248.89% for children who expressed suicidal ideation
25,53% in field intervention for children who were at direct risk
53.04% in disorders (developmental, personality, food intake, etc.)

Also on cases of disappearances, there was an increase of

19.75% on calls we managed through the “European Hotline for Missing Children 116000”
12.96% in the number of children who went missing
52% in the number of adults who went missing

You may download the presentation here.

For more info please contact us at
“The Smile of the Child”
Tel. +30 210 3306140