Sweet Water Foundation has joined forces with the Sandals Foundation to strengthen the country’s capacity to help protect Grenada’s youth from sexual violence, this time through the launch of the Sweet Water Foundation Child Helpline.
According to Child Protection Specialist and Director of the Sweet Water Foundation Dr Hazel Da Breo, the helpline will be a free online counseling service that anyone can access; children, youth and adults, but with a keen focus on the impact on the island’s young children.
At a media launch held at Sandals Grenada on 28 April, Dr Da Breo cautioned however that the helpline is not for reporting crime, which must be done to the police. Staffed by expert counsellors, the helpline aims to provide education and psychological support in the particular interest of avoiding abusive choices and behaviors.
“The helpine is not a hotline. A hotline is a number you call to report a crime that has already been committed and is the responsibility of the state to maintain. The child helpline, however, is a place you call to access counseling or advice on troubling sexual issues, particularly those involving children. It is free, confidential and anonymous,” Da Breo said.
Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke, said the Foundation is pleased to continue its support of the Sweet Water Foundation with the launch of the Child Helpline as it is of fundamental importance in the protection of youths against sexual violence.
“As part of the foundation’s mission, we aim to provide the opportunity, as best as possible, for persons across the region to access the support needed to positively impact their lives. Whether you are a victim of sexual violence or are wrestling with your own urges, the helpline is a way for persons to access support that will help to positively shape their future, something that speaks to the core of the work we do across the region.”
Since 2015, the Sandals Foundation has also provided financial support to the Sweet Water Foundation’s RISE Club, a treatment initiative for adolescent girls who have experienced sexual violence.
The Sweet Water Foundation Child Helpline will support children who have questions regarding their own sexuality or sexual practices or may be unsure of what constitutes abuse, children or adults who witness troubling behavior involving possible abuse of a child and do not know what measures to take to report it and adults and youths who have engaged in sexually harmful behavior but want to make a change.
“We intend to be very practical in our approach. Our online counselors will help child callers to think quickly on their feet, to make good choices, build resilience and become very well educated in methodologies for safe behaviors and self – protection,” Da Breo said.
The Sweet Water Foundation Child Helpline will join Child Helpline International (CHI), a global network of 181 child helplines in 147 countries and will operate in a similar manner as the other helplines within the network.
“The mandate of the helpline is to encourage all conversations, even disclosures of harm, not with the view of retribution and punishment but with the view to counsel the potential perpetrator away from harming a child. This is the way helplines under CHI operate across the world,” Da Breo said.
General Manager for Sandals Grenada, Peter Fraser added, “We cannot sit back and allow our society to be further tainted by the problems of sexual violence. Sex and sexuality are taboo subjects at home and school, therefore this helpline is a perfect protected forum for addressing this pertinent issue.”
The Child Helpline can be contacted via Telephone: 800-4444, Monday to Friday 10 am to 4 pm, or around the clock via Whatsapp: 534-5769 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org