The incident of child abuse that happened in Malaysia has become one of the most worrying cases as its number keeps increasing day by day. Cases like this could leave very tragic experiences and also trauma for children that had to undergo it. Unfortunately, children rarely have the medium for them to speak about their dark experiences and this resulted in worse effects for them. Malaysia recently has launched the first helpline for children called the Buddy Bear to help these children lighten their burden by giving them the chance to talk about their worries.
Not long ago, HumanKind which is a nonprofit human services organization that has been serving children and families has organized the Buddy Bear line. This Buddy Bear organization aimed to help and also guide the vulnerable communities nowadays with their worrying mental health issues that keep increasing at a fast rate. Based on the organization’s history, it was first established in 2016 and they have been identifying, training, equipping, and also supporting volunteers since then from the community to deliver evidence-based interventions.
The ultimate reason for the existence of this Buddy Bear line would be to give the children out there opportunity to talk and pour out their hearts with professionally trained volunteers regarding their emotional or even social issues. This is because according to the recent observation shows that children were facing very high levels of stress and are unable to get help, especially during the movement control order.
Pam Guneratnam who is the founder of HumanKind stated that the very best way to deliver help towards all the children is to create a phone service so that they can call and express their thoughts in a positive environment. Other than that, she also mentioned that the Buddy Bear Line has been operating since April but only on a smaller scale. After receiving some calls from the children lately, Pam Guneratnam mentioned that they received many types of reasons for the children to call the Buddy Bear line and some of them are the children who were lonely at home and also some even expressed their concern for their family members who were depressed.
She said, “The wonderful aspect of the helpline is that the child is able to recognize that something is not right and is seeking help for themselves which is a healthy response”. Pam Guneratnam also added, “This is empowering and promotes self-efficacy as compared to them being forced to see the counselor, teacher, or a doctor”.
After their experiences receiving some calls from the children, they stated that communicating with children is completely different compared to communicating with adults. This might be due to factors such as different maturity levels between them and also having different problem-solving abilities. The volunteers under the Buddy Bear line are individuals that are trained by Psychological First Aid (PFA). It is actually an evidence-based intervention that is implemented in crisis and also pandemics.
Pam Guneratnam assures everyone that Buddy Bear line can be considered as a trusted and supportive space for children out there when they are in need of a safe person to express their worries in life. Their volunteers have been supervised by registered mental health professionals. These people volunteering for Buddy Bear line are people that really committed to providing a responsible and ethical phone line for all the children.
This Buddy Bear helpline operates seven days a week and starts from noon until midnight. Their volunteers have the ability to communicate in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin and also Tamil for everyone’s convenience. To get some help from Buddy Bear line, you can call the number 1-800-18-2327.
Sources: Buddy Bear Childline.