Greece’s non-profit organisation ‘The Smile of the Child’, which is a trusted NGO partner of Facebook, contributed to the Global Safety and Well-Being Summit 2019, which was organised by Facebook on the 14th and 15th of May in New York City.
Along with more than 120 experts from 40 countries working on safety and technology, ‘The Smile of the Child’ shared the Greek experience in discussions ranging from technology and suicide prevention to the well-being of children growing up in a digital age.
Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, President of ‘The Smile of the Child’, member of the BoD of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) and President of the European Antibullying Network (EAN), shared the national experience in the field of prevention, awareness raising and direct intervention for the protection and safety of children online as well as the European and global efforts in order to ensure that children and the youth remain safe on the Internet.
The discussions focused on how technology plays a crucial role by offering tools and ways of timely prevention and effective support to those in need of assistance, while particular emphasis was put to the ever-rising problem of suicide, one of the leading causes of death across the world. Facebook works closely with specialized actors, among them ‘The Smile of the Child’ in Greece, in order to better understand suicide prevention and develop services and resources where people in distress can turn to in order to receive proper guidance and support.
In light of recent tragic cases in Greece of children who committed suicide ‘The Smile of the Child’ informed the participants about its hands-on experience and the specific tools, amongst others the National Helpline for Children SOS 1056 with the aim to encourage children and adults in distress that seek help and specialized assistance. In this regard, ‘The Smile of the Child’ will develop thanks to the kind support of the National Bank of Greece the Chat App of the SOS 1056 hotline with the goal to offer an additional digital tool to those children and teens who will need help and support online.
Apart from national challenges, global challenges were also thoroughly discussed as well as good practices, innovative ideas, new digital applications and ways of online interaction with the aim to educate children, parents and the general public on the proper use of technology and ensure their protection from the risks hidden in the online world, such as hate speech, cyberbullying and online harassment.
As one of the global suicide prevention partners of Facebook, “The Smile of the Child” encourages reports of suicidal content in order to ensure the online protection of children and directly intervene and help children in need of support. This cooperation is made possible thanks to the 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, operation of the National Helpline for Children SOS 1056 and the European Helpline for Children and Adolescents 116111, as well as the partnership with the Cyber-Crime Unit of the Hellenic Police.
"The Smile of the Child" was created in 1995 by 10-year-old Andreas Yannopoulos, who, shortly before leaving from life, expressed in his diary his wish to found an organization that will ensure for all children what he had so generously enjoyed: love, affection, care and respect.
The dream of 10-year-old Andreas became reality and today the Organization "The Smile of the Child", is recognised internationally, with a vision of effective and direct actions for preventing and addressing particular phenomena that threaten children.
In the course of 23 years of action "The Smile of the Child" has supported more than 1.480.000 children and their families. These are kids who are victims of any form of violence, missing children, children with health problems, children living in poverty.