BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The public can now report child abuse incidents through a new dedicated hotline called Talian ANAK 121, which begins operation from October 2.

Callers can dial the hotline to ask for guidance or counselling as well as report cases of abuse, neglect and bullying of children. The phone service can also be used to report missing children, child trafficking and child pornography.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and TelBru launched the 24-hour hotline on Tuesday, after seeing a rise in the number of child abuse cases between 2014 and 2018.

Statistics from the Royal Brunei Police Force showed that the number of child abuse cases rose from 43 in 2014 to 56 in 2018.

MCYS Deputy Permanent Secretary (Community) Saidah Hj Wahid said the hotline is intended to act as a specific channel of communication for children to complain, ask for help, and report any issues without fear.

It is also hoped that the hotline will help improve monitoring and provide an overview of issues facing children, she added.

Hj Khairul Ariffin Hj Abd Aji, MCYS assistant director of Public Relations, Resources and Volunteer Section, said eight trained call agents or social workers will be available to man the hotline after undergoing training from the Community Development Department in July.

Another training session will be conducted from from Childline Foundation Malaysia in October.

“Callers are required to give details such as their name, location as well as details [of the abuse that they are facing]. Callers can also pass on information of potential victims that they suspected are being abused,” Hj Khairul said.

Calls to the helpline are free and the caller’s information will be kept confidential. Each call can last up to 20 to 30 minutes for people who need counselling services.

Telbru’s interim CEO Ahmad Jefri Abdul Rahman hands over a MoU to acting director of JAPEM Rostinah POKSSSP DP Hj Mohammad Tahir during the launch of the ANAK 121 helpline. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

The ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding with TelBru prior to the launch of the ANAK 121 hotline on Tuesday. The telco set up the helpline and call centre through its subsidiary Comquest Sdn Bhd.

Equipped with a systematic monitoring system, the call centre will be able to provide a detailed report of complaints received and coordinate immediate or follow-up action involving the relevant agencies.

TelBru’s interim CEO Ahmad Jefri Abd Rahman said they would be monitoring the volume of calls received and if the hotline was being utilised properly.

“From there, we will be able to streamline and refine this call service [to see] if we need to upgrade or add more people. This is a service which we do hope will provide an outreach for the people who need the help.

“Any prank calls received will be depriving another person who needs that help,” he added.

The Community Development Department, TelBru and its partners will be organising awareness campaigns on the new helpline in the community, including schools.