The association “Skalbes” has so far received more than ten calls to the anonymous phone, which was created to try to prevent possible crimes by providing timely psychological help to persons who have sexual thoughts about children, the LETA agency found out.
Until the end of this month, a new pilot project is operating in Latvia – an anonymous telephone line designed to provide confidential help to persons who are oppressed by sexual thoughts and inclinations towards minors. “Skalbes” confirms that it has already received the first calls and continues to receive them. Some of the callers are adults who suppress sexual thoughts about children, but this phone is also called by persons who suffered from sexual violence in childhood. On the other hand, in some of the calls, telephone conversations did not take place, because they were calls, silent calls and the like.
The director of “Skalbe” Raivo Vilcāns admitted that the number of calls received in the pilot project cannot be compared to the already existing telephones – the crisis or victim support telephone, because it is completely new. However, he pointed out that the phone for those who suppress sexual thoughts about children is also necessary because “even one call received is an achievement, given how difficult it is to reach this type of target audience”.
When asked about the profile of the average caller, Vilcāns said that at the moment there is not enough number of calls to be able to outline it in any way. At the same time, he invites you not to think about the portrait of a person who is oppressed by intrusive thoughts about children, because it is generally unremarkable. Namely, it can be a person of any age, financial status, therefore it is not possible to identify a person who could or has committed a sexual crime.
“We would definitely like the phone to be more far-reaching. If we start this project, it would be worthwhile to continue it, because then this prevention mechanism, which prevents crimes against children, would also remain. This is the decision of the financiers,” Vilcāns said.
The association emphasizes that its priority is to protect the child, as well as to ensure anonymity and a mutually fair environment for negotiations, so that a crime against a child is not committed. It works to be a reliable and accessible resource for those who have questions or concerns about sexual thoughts or actions against children, as well as for their loved ones and victims.
Probation researcher of the State Probation Service (VPD) Anvars Zavackis emphasizes to the LETA agency that there is no need to think that the number of calls will be in the hundreds at first.
“On the contrary, if there were so many calls, then it would be a signal that something is not quite right,” Zavackis says, adding that it is naive to think that these people, when they see a hotline, will immediately pick up the phone and call it. Some people take a while to get up the courage to call.
Ilona Linde, deputy head of the Service of the Polish Police Service in matters of functions, states that currently there are very few measures in the field of prevention to prevent this type of crime. She believes that there is still a long way to go in Latvia to provide not only an anonymous hotline, but also the opportunity to contact a psychotherapist or another specialist anonymously and free of charge to receive therapy anonymously.
Currently, the Ministry of Welfare is developing a plan to reduce violence, and this anonymous hotline has also been incorporated into it, so that it will be available in the future. It is currently clear that this anonymous hotline will be expanded to include other victims of violence who will be able to call anonymously and receive professional help.
LETA already wrote that the main goal of the pilot project is to provide a tool that could prevent sexual exploitation of children in time.
The call made to the special phone number is completely anonymous – the name, phone number or location of the caller is not recorded. Phone calls are answered by a professional crisis counselor who will listen to the caller without judgement, discuss the situation and inform them of options for getting help to prevent possible abuse. People who suspect inappropriate behavior of someone close to them are also invited to call the phone.
The anonymous telephone number 28030030 is available until November 30 and is intended for adults who have questions or concerns related to sexual thoughts or behavior towards children. At the same time, the hotline of the State Inspectorate for the Protection of Children’s Rights is also available for children and adolescents who have experienced sexual violence – 116111.
The telephone service is provided with funding from the European Social Fund project “Integration of ex-prisoners into society and the labor market” implemented by the Prisons Administration, which is implemented by “Skalbes” Association in cooperation with the Prison Service.