The Smile of the Child
The Smile of the Child Has Been Assigned “116 000” The European Telephone Number for Missing Children in Greece
Athens, 11 September 2007 – The Greek National Regulatory Board for Telecommunication and Post has designated the European Telephone Number for Missing Children “116 000” to The Smile of Child. The Smile of the Child runs the Greek Centre for Missing & Exploited Children. The Centre works closely with parents, judicial and law enforcement authorities, the media and the public in order to find missing children. The Greek Centre, in close cooperation with the Greek National Police, is also responsible for activation of AMBER Alert Hellas; an emergency broadcast system for missing children. The Greek Centre for Missing and Exploited Children is a member of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children; and holds Vice-Presidency of Missing Children Europe, a federation of non-government organisations from 15 member states of the European Union.
On February 15, 2007, the Extraordinary Communications Committee, reserved “116 000” as the European telephone number for missing children. The European number for missing children constitutes a major step towards strengthening the assistance offered by emergency hotlines across Europe in cases of disappearances of minors. In Greece, the Greek Centre for Missing & Exploited Children currently runs the Greek hotline for missing children “SOS 1056”. The hotline is staffed by trained professionals, operates on a 24-hour basis, is free of charge from both land and mobile telephones and is available to the public.
The Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity designated “SOS 1056” as the Greek National Helpline for Children. “SOS 1056” is a national line and when dealing with the phenomenon of missing children, it was essential that there be a common European telephone number. The Smile of the Child applied for the European number “116 000” and based on the criteria set by the European Commission, the Greek National Regulatory Board for Telecommunication and Post designated “116 000” to The Smile of the Child.
The phenomenon of missing and sexually exploited children is increasingly a cross border matter. This is especially true in Greece, which because of its geographic location is often used as either a transit point into Europe or as a point of destination from surrounding Balkan countries and the Middle East.
Children disappear for a number of reasons: They may be abducted; they may run away, they may be victims of trafficking or they may simply be lost. It is crucial that no matter the reason and no matter where they are in Europe, children and parents have a short, easily memorable number that will provide assistance and support. As well, when the public has information on a missing or exploited child, irrespective of where they are, they must have access to a telephone number where they disclose that information and can be confident that the information will be properly investigated by authorities.
Designation of “116 000” is another important step in helping children not just in Greece but also in Europe to find their way home.
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