Six Digits Worth Remembering: European hotlines join forces to help families

As we celebrate International Child Helpline Day 2018, it’s a great opportunity to look back at some key moments from the past year.

On 17 October 2017, Child Helpline International and its invaluable partner Missing Children Europe, which coordinates the network of European helplines for missing children, jointly organised the Six Digits Worth Remembering event, in light of the 10th anniversary of the European decision reserving numbers beginning with ‘116’ for harmonised services of social value.

The event brought together child hotlines and helplines for missing children from across Europe, as well as policy makers from EU Institutions. The event allowed us to celebrate our achievements: in protecting children and in promoting their rights through the complementary 116 services. It also provided the opportunity for us to reflect upon the challenges ahead.

A special Eurobarometer survey undertaken in 2011 found that 91% of people in the EU think that a free Europe-wide single number for hotlines for missing children is a (very) useful service. In 2013 a study by the European Commission highlighted that “116 000 hotlines are a precious source of data about the circumstances and profile of missing children, beyond the level of data that can be easily obtained from police databases.” It also stressed the strength of 116 000 hotlines in playing a “prominent role in championing preventative and follow-up work that extends beyond the remit of individual police forces as well as in raising awareness and sharing information.” The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights reports: “Child helplines represent one of the most common forms of help and support service provided for children who are victims of violence. They strive to provide child sensitive counselling, complaint and reporting mechanisms that enhance the protection of children.”

Even though there is still lots of work to be done, child helplines and hotlines for missing children in the EU are helping more children and families than ever, and the harmonised numbers have been instrumental for their success. As missing children cases are increasingly cross-border in nature, now more than ever, joining forces and working together is of crucial importance for a streamlined approach in order to help children and families throughout Europe.


The 116111 project was funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (REC 2014-2020). The content of this article represents only the views of the author and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.