EU project teaches children about the emergency number

Publication date 9.6.2024 14.16
News item
Kuvassa lapsi matkapuhelin korvallaan.

The Emergency Response Centre Administration is participating in an EU project that improves the visibility of the missing children help system. A key theme of the project is teaching children how to correctly use the emergency number.

Did you know that the European Commission has reserved the number 116 000 as the EU-wide missing children hotline? The aim is to ensure that missing children can be reported using the same hotline anywhere in the EU. Emergency response centre operations in other European countries are organised differently than they are in Finland, and some EU countries have dozens of emergency numbers used to reach different authorities. Calls to the single European emergency number 112, on the other hand, always go to the authorities of the country the caller is in. Because of this, the Commission set out to implement a Europe-wide hotline for contacting the authorities responsible for handling situations involving missing children.

In Finland, the emergency number 112 assists in all emergencies, including missing children. Emergency response centre operators are also trained in identifying social emergencies, and the emergency number handles a number of situations related to children on a daily basis, including missing children and runaways, as well as matters that fall within the scope of social services, such as assessing the care needs of minors. In an emergency, always call the emergency number 112.

Because of these differences, the EU-wide 116 000 hotline has a different purpose in Finland: It should only be used for non-urgent calls and serves mainly as an advice service. 

Call the missing children hotline if you need to:

•    ask for advice related to a missing child,
•    notify the authorities that a child who has been reported missing has been found, or
•    seek information about your missing child.

Being able to identify emergencies is key

Missing Children Europe is a federation dedicated to helping missing children, bringing together 32 grassroots organisations from 27 countries across Europe. MCE is also coordinating the ongoing KEEP SAFE campaign, which is being led in Finland by Children’s Fundamental Rights ry. The Emergency Response Centre Administration is participating in the project launched in April which, in Finland, focuses primarily on spreading awareness of the correct use of the emergency number 112 and the 116 000 missing children hotline.

− Although the emergency number 112 is the most important number to remember in Finland, the missing children hotline is also worth noting down.  The hotline can help you anywhere in Europe if, for example, your underage child goes missing during a trip abroad. The number can also be found in the 112 Suomi app, says Taito Vainio, Director General of the Emergency Response Centre Agency.

The KEEP SAFE project will run until the end of the year and, among other things, offers teachers and guardians materials and training to help them talk to children about the emergency number. The key is to give children a clear idea of when they should call the emergency number. The ability to identify an emergency and report it is essential for getting help.

− Emergency calls are answered by trained and professional operators. There’s no need to worry about whether you have everything they need to know. The emergency response centre operator knows how to find the information they need, even in situations where the caller is a child. The important thing is knowing when it’s time to make the call, Taito Vaino explains.