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In an attempt to reach out to children in need of help and support, eight suprapartisan House of Representatives members formed a federation Thursday to set up a 24-hour telephone help line.

Supported by 56 other Diet members from both chambers, the federation aims to open a full-time telephone help line in Japan and help the service take root in the society. “Bullying has cast a shadow over the everyday lives of Japanese children since the mid ’80s,” Nobuto Hosaka, secretary general of the federation and a Social Democratic Party member in the Lower House, said in the inauguration meeting. “We need to develop a system to listen to, and act on, cornered children’s cries for help as soon as possible.”

In setting up the help line, the federation plans to hold symposiums, lectures and study sessions on issues concerning today’s children. “As it was founded upon passionate efforts of some Diet members, we shall try hard to seek the best way (to start and operate the help line) in Japan,” said Takashi Kosugi, former Education Minister and chairman of the federation.

The federation uses ChildLine, the free national help line in Britain, as its model. ChildLine has counseled over 600,000 children and 70,000 adults since it was founded in 1986.

At the meeting, two representatives from ChildLine spoke about its operation, followed by a role-playing demonstration of how a counseling session works. “Children’s lives everywhere have become more stressful today,” said ChildLine counseling support manager John Hall, adding that many traditional means of support for children have broken down.

The organization’s 11 years of operation have proved that a telephone service can provide much needed mental and social support, as well as counseling and protection to all children, he said. According to Hall, ChildLine answers over 3,000 calls a day.

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