Report on the work of the 10 Specialized Action Centers of “The Smile of the Child” for 2023
Report on the work of the 10 Specialized Action Centers of “The Smile of the Child” for 2023 – Roundtable Discussion
- 366 children were supported in total
- 805 calls to the 4 Hot/helplines of the Organization
- 515 calls per day to the National Helpline for Children SOS 1056
- Violence among children (bullying, delinquency): 1 counselling session every 2 days for bullying to children
- Child abuse: Abuse reports for 6 children per day – 82 calls per day for children at immediate risk due to abuse
- Child suicide: 615 incidents (1.7 per day) of suicide, suicidal ideation and self-harm
- Adolescent runaways and disappearances: 1 disappearance every 2 days – Of the 186 children we searched for, 50% (98 children) were girls aged 13 to 18 – repeated running away by the same children
- Poverty: Holistic support to 16.573 children and their families dealing with welfare problems
- Health: Meeting 9.077 requests for children with health problems – Transfers of 2.042 newborns and children
On Tuesday, January 30th, 2024, “Smile” presented the outcomes of the holistic actions and services provided to children and their families for 2023 by the ten (10) Specialized Action Centers of “The Smile of the Child” –which were formed, based on its fields of activity.
In a room full of journalists, representatives of institutional bodies and local government, as well as scientists with vast experience and knowledge in the field of child protection, Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, President of the Board of Directors of “The Smile of the Child”, presented a report on the work of the 10 Action Centers of the Organization for 2023, focusing on the serious problems that threaten children today and the need to find immediate ways to manage them, based on cooperation and partnerships.
Mr. Costas Yannopoulos noted: “In 2023, “Smile” supported 91.366 children and managed 199.805 calls to the four Hot/helplines of the Organization. Today, however, we are gathered here to highlight what results emerged from the statistics of our work, which reflect directly the horrible reality our children face. But today we are not alone, we share our anguish with extraordinary people on the frontline who -each and every one of them- have already contributed a lot or – the younger ones – are struggling to offer a better life to our children. I would like to thank them for responding to our call for today’s substantive discussion. The media, who are the ones who can mobilize and inform society, the local authorities, who can play a decisive role in prevention and direct intervention to solve children’s problems, and of course the excellent scientists, prosecutors, juvenile and adult probation officers, doctors and teachers, who are undoubtedly the “spearhead” of child protection. The composition of this meeting is such that I am optimistic that substantive proposals will be produced rather than wishful thinking. I want to assure you once again that “The Smile of the Child”, its excellent scientific staff, its infrastructure and the tools it possesses belong to everyone, to Greek society and are always and consistently at the disposal of the state. We are always at the disposal of the state and its officials to facilitate its work, to strengthen it, as we owe it, primarily to children, but also to all those who support us. Make the most of us”.
You can watch Organization’s 2023 Statistics in detail here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17u7wRHEeO-72vMJdad_amJiHey71E_EG?usp=sharing
In 2023 “The Smile of the Child” was further strengthened to ensure its essential work. Thus, in addition to the established annual audit of its financial data by Ernst and Young Greece, it proceeded with securing the consulting services of the international auditing and consulting company Deloitte and establishing a team of external consultants – a unique practice for Greek standards. Equally important, however, was the formation of the ten (10) Action Centers of the Organization, namely, ten Centers that are specialized and will now manage the many issues of children in our country.in an integrated manner, in terms of prevention, intervention and treatment. The presentation and report on the Organization’s work was followed by a discussion moderated by Mr. Yannis Arvanitis, Police Editor of ANTENNA Channel, on four main themes, which were featured in the statistics of the Organization, but were also identified by public opinion.
The four themes were: 1) Violence among children: a) bullying – b) delinquency, 2) Violence against children: abuse, neglect, etc., 3) Suicidal tendenices of children and adolescents and 4) Disappearances and adolescent runaways.
Each of the Coordinators scientifically responsible for the four of the ten respective Centers presented the data and solutions as proposed by “The Smile of the Child”.
Referring to the four themes, and based on their experience and expertise, the participants stated:
“We need to make clear the difference between bullying and delinquency, terms that are often confused. Bullying refers to repeated behavior of children, manifested by violence in school, it is intentional, it is not accidental, there are no equal relationships and there is a systematic nature. Juvenile delinquency is about getting involved with the law and can also go beyond the school context”.– Ms. Ioanna Chardaloupa, Psychologist and Coordinator of the Organization’s Center on Violence and Bullying
“It takes many partnerships to become “one”! The educational system, the child welfare system in health care, the prevention system for delinquent behaviors. Let the State have a continuity.”– Ms. Xeni Dimitriou, former Supreme Court Prosecutor
“We as educators must respect children, not insult them but also confront them with their responsibilities. There are no bad children, even if they are delinquent. Apart from cognitive subjects, children need “food” for thought.”– Ms. Sofia Rokana, Teacher, 2nd High School of Ilioupolis
“In my personal experience, in my role as a teacher, I have repeatedly been around children. The boundaries, the responsibility we place on a child and the family, are undeniably crucial.” –Ms. Voula Patoulidou, Deputy Head of the Metropolitan Unit of Thessaloniki
“The National Center for Abuse and Exploitation of “Smile” -with the National Helpline for Children SOS 1056 as its key tool – is now the center of reference for every child victim of violence. The numbers are really discouraging, considering that they show the extent of violence and reveal the phenomenon of child abuse and exploitation in our country. The encouraging thing is that the phenomenon of child abuse is being highlighted and people have learned to recognize the signs of a child in danger, they are becoming aware and know where to turn to, by showing their trust in us.”-Ms. Stavroula Spiropoulou, Psychologist and Coordinator of the Organization’s Center for Child Abuse and Exploitation
“The issue of abuse and bullying of children is very important, which is why from the first days of our mandate, we took the initiative to hold a wide-ranging meeting to address bullying and violence among minors in our city, with the presence of all relevant actors. Because it is my deep conviction that the role of the Municipality in these cases is not repressive, we will place particular emphasis on prevention, through targeted information and awareness-raising activities for children, parents and teachers.”- Mr. Yannis Mylonakis, Mayor of Aghia Paraskevi.
“It all starts at home. The family is the basic cell in our life, the main pillar. The principles that a child will receive from parents and guardians are decisive, so that growing up he or she will not be oriented towards crime. The triptych is: family, school, social environment”.– Mr. Panos Sobolos, Police Editor, former President of ESIEA (Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers)
“I have dealt with countless cases of child abuse in my career, 41 long years in hospitals, 37 of them in Children’s Hospitals. Immediate reaction and intervention is what can save a child. Immediate, instantat cooperation and activation of the mechanism that includes: Doctor, Prosecutor and Police. Every hour lost, puts a child at risk.” – Mr. George Sfakianos, Neurosurgeon
“Children must be principled but also empathetic. The interventions that are carried out are very few and we are glad that “The Smile of the Child” exists with its specialized partners, as it complements the state sector significantly.”- Mr. Sotiris Efstratiadis, Director of the Athens Single Service of Guardians & Social Assistance
“Suicidal tendencies is the tip of an iceberg, it is what we see. Many times we think that suicide is what happens, as a result, but the causes are deeper, and what we see is a sign. In 2023 at “Smile” we managed 615 cases of suicidal ideation -1.7 a day. Behind the numbers, there are people, families, schools, whole communities.” –Ms. Ioanna Gkika, Psychologist and Coordinator of the Organization’s Center for Online Safety
“Every 2 days, “Smile” deals with a missing child case, with an average time for finding a child 2 days. We know that children who leave home -who run away- are the largest group of “missing children”. According to 2023 statistics, we handled 236 cases involving 186 children with the predominant missing child figure being a Greek, teenage girl. Every missing child is a child at risk.”-Ms. Eirini Rizopoulou, Social Worker and Coordinator of the Organization’s Center for Missing Children and Adults