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Children's safety and protection

The purpose of child protection is to ensure that children have a sense of security and well-being. The main emphasis of child protection lies on the local government, which organizes child protection and provides assistance on its territory and is required to ensure the availability of the necessary services for children and families.

For the purpose of organizing child protection, local governments employ either children protection employees or delegate the relevant services to a social worker. If you notice a child who you feel is neglected, contact the social worker posted to the local government.

Child abuse

Child abuse includes:

  • leaving a child without care;
  • psychological abuse;
  • physical abuse;
  • emotional abuse;
  • sexual abuse.

Where to turn when a child needs help?

The local or national hotline can be called by the child him- or herself, a parent or another person to obtain information on further action to be taken. The number of the hotline is 126, and one can always call the police as well at 112.

The European hotline number for missing children 116 000 was launched at the beginning of 2011. The hotline enables to pass on information about missing children, the counsellors give preliminary advice how to act in the situation and carry out crisis counselling. The hotline works closely in co-operation with Police and Border Guard Board. 116 000 is operational 24h, the call is free of charge for all callers. 

The child helpline service number 116 111 is the nationwide free of charge round the clock operational helpline. The objective of the service is to enable everybody to report about a child in need, forward the information to respective specialists and to offer children and other people primary social counselling and crisis counselling, if necessary. The service is provided in accordance with the Republic of Estonia Child Protection Act § 59, according to which every person is required to immediately notify the social services departments, police or some other body providing assistance if the person knows of a child who is in need of protection or assistance

Children's protection organizations

Counselling, assistance and security are provided by children’s support centres (children’s centres) in Tallinn and Tartu. Community organizations that do the same are the Estonian Union for Child Welfare  and the Estonian Children’s Fund. Several international NGOs that deal with children’s protection and analyze the conditions for children also have offices in Estonia:

Children and intoxicating substances

It is prohibited to sell tobacco products to persons under the age of 18. Neither may persons under the age of 18 possess or buy or sell tobacco products. Minors may be fined for smoking, possession of tobacco products or attempting to buy tobacco products. Enticing, coercing or otherwise influencing a minor to do so is also punishable by a fine.

The sale of alcohol is prohibited to persons under 18 years of age. In case of any doubt, the seller must require the buyer to present identification and may refuse the sale of alcohol if a document is not presented. The use of narcotic or psychotropic substances, likewise the manufacture, purchase or possession of such substances in small quantities, is considered a misdemeanour. It is punishable by fine or up to 30 days detention. A misdemeanour becomes a crime if the quantity of drug is sufficient for intoxication of ten persons.

Children and the Internet

Early in life, children must learn the important rules governing electronic communications:

  • not to divulge details regarding oneself or one’s family without parental permission (this includes address, telephone number, information on school attended etc).
  • to tell parents of any suspicious e-mails.
  • to keep one’s e-mail password and other passwords to oneself (and one’s parents).

The most common forms of cyberbullying include setting up a false account and posting incorrect, disparaging and inappropriate information, or hijacking or hacking into the victim’s existing account. To report such incidents to the police, copy down all details for the account into a separate document (username, time created/time of the intrusion), the contact details for the account (telephone number, MSN address etc) and the content of the account (text, photographs, advertisements etc).

To prevent cyberbullying

  • Block the bully on all communication channels.
  • Copy and retain posts with a disparaging content.
  • Terminate the bully’s activity by reporting the behaviour to the portal operator.

The Consumer Protection Board has opened a website with consumer information at Nupukas, it is intended above all for school-age children. Here the consumer’s rights and obligations are introduced, what attitude to take toward advertisements, what threats lurk online, how to cope with debts and much more.

Vihjeliin is a free online service of the Estonian Union for Child Welfare which enables Internet users to provide information about material being distributed online which depicts illegal content – the sexual abuse or exploitation of minors and child trafficking. Information can be submitted anonymously; your personal details are not investigated or recorded.

Targalt internetis is a project, that's mission is safe Internet use by children and their parents and the prevention of the online distribution of material containing illegal content.

Text made by Estonian Union for Child Welfare
Last modified 16. March 2012

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