Plagued by hang-ups, welfare ministry to shorten child abuse hotline message


The welfare ministry said Tuesday it will improve efficiency at child abuse hotlines because 90 percent of callers are hanging up during the recorded message phase.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to shorten the message to around 30 seconds from 70 on April 1.

Although the consultation center received about 26,070 calls a month on average from July 2015 to December 2015, only 2,963 people actually reached a human being, a ministry survey says.

The ministry set up the 189 number for such centers last July so callers nationwide could solicit advice or report child abuse cases to a nearby center.

The 70-second message starts with an explanation and requires the inputting of a zip code. Many callers found this annoying and hung up before they could be transferred to a child abuse center.

The service, set up in 2009, originally used a 10 digit number, which was criticized as difficult to remember. It was also unavailable on holidays and late at night.

After the ministry established the three-digit phone number, the calling average for the six-month period through December 2015 rose 15-fold compared with the 1,739 calls logged in the previous half-year period, it said.