Adult calls to children’s helpline soar

The number of adults calling Sweden's children's rights charity BRIS increased dramatically last year. Many of the callers were concerned about the way they were being treated by the authorities.

From 2008 to 2009, calls from adults to BRIS increased by 26 percent. Of the 2597 calls from adults, 46.6 percent were from mothers and 15 percent from fathers. Thirteen percent were from grandparents, a proportion BRIS (Barnens Rätt I Samhållet, or Children’s Rights in Society) believes is significant.

“Parents do not know where to turn when children are feeling down,” BRIS managing director Eva Waltré told Dagens Nyheter. “Grandparents who know their grandchildren may see things that others do not.”

Those calling the charity’s helpline include parents who have problems with the authorities or grandparents who fear their grandchildren are being abused, BRIS reported on Monday.

“It can be about reporting children who are drinking or grandchildren who appear to be suffering mentally,” said Waltré. “It may feel like one is forced to betray children when you need support.”

Contact with the authorities is another major component of calls to BRIS. More than 31 percent of calls were about government officials last year, a quarter more than in 2008. Often, the calls were about an adult who did not feel he or she was being taken seriously, such as a father concerned about the condition of his children with their mother.

“Social services often think that his concern is part of the problem,” said Waltré.

In a bid to help adults with child-related issues, BRIS has launched a new website to answer many of the questions it receives on its helpline.

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