By: Marthe Wittkamp

The initiative “De Kindertelefoon” first began in 1979. The Kindertelefoon, or ‘phone for kids,’ provides a phone number that children aged 8 to 18 can call anonymously and free of charge to talk about anything and everything. Whether they are feeling sad about something and just need someone to listen, they are scared of someone close to them, or they are in love for the first time and are overwhelmed by what they are feeling, they can talk about it with the volunteers at the Kindertelefoon. It thus functions as a safe space where volunteers give advice, ask questions, cheer the children up, or just listen to what they have to say. The Kindertelefoon is only available in the Dutch language (Morsch 2021).

The Organization

The Kindertelefoon is a formal organization founded in 1979, the international year of the Child. In fact, this year also marked the start of the 10-year process of creating an international treaty of Children’s Rights.

The Kindertelefoon first started in an attic in an Amsterdam area called Jordaan. The idea first came about when article was published in the Dutch newspaper ‘The Volkskrant’ about the German ‘Sorgentelefon.’ This was a hotline for German children to call to about any topic. A group of people felt like a similar line should exist in the Netherlands, and so – with the support of the ‘Kinderfonds’ and ‘Jantje Beton’ – the Kindertelefoon was born (NPO Radio 1 2018; IsGeschiedenis 2019).

Initially, the phone line was open for just two hours a day, the office consisting of only two desks and two phones. However, the initiative grew steadily, and quickly gained funding from the municipality of Amsterdam (IsGeschiedenis 2019). Since 1984, the Kindertelefoon has been financed by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, which holds the duty of upholding articles 12 and 13 of the International Treaty of Children’s Rights. These articles state:

Article 12: “States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child” (OHCR 1989)

Article 13: “The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice” (OHCR 1989)

The Kindertelefoon is an important means to upholding these articles in the Netherlands. Through the Kindertelefoon, children can freely and without judgement express their ideas, thoughts or views of the world, and the volunteers at the Kindertelefoon help children form these too.

Since 2015, the Kindertelefoon has been an independent foundation with a national office situated in Utrecht, and 7 further locations spread throughout the country. The organization is run mostly through its around 650 volunteers, who make sure that the line is open every day from 11.00 to 21.00 (De Kindertelefoon 2020).

How We Work

The Kindertelefoon is a hotline that Dutch-speaking children aged 8 to 18 can call or text about anything they might want to talk about. Over 650 volunteers are educated to respond to the stories told, and it really is a non-judgemental and safe environment. Around 1500 conversations per day are held between the Kindertelefoon and children, of which some through chat/texts (24%) and the rest through conversation on the phone (76%).

Kids reach out to the Kindertelefoon about all sorts of topics, with the topic talked about the most being sexuality (De Kindertelefoon 2020). Other topics often addressed include, but are not limited to, bullying, emotional problems, relationships and love, body and health, and home and family.

Our Greatest Accomplishments

Testimonies of children who have used the Kindertelefoon show how important the organization is. It breaks taboos and children start to understand that they are not alone in worrying about certain things. The Kindertelefoon initiative empowers children, as they provide a safe platform that children can use to talk about any issues, feel like they are heard, and where they can get tips on how to address certain situations or how to have certain conversations. The greatest accomplishment of this organization is in its success: The way they are organized has helped them grow and has maximized their outreach, so that today all children in the Netherlands know about the hotline and are able to use it (Morsch 2021).

Our Biggest Challenge

The biggest challenge of the Kindertelefoon is that even though they can make a huge impact in the life of children, they are limited to a conversation through the phone or chat. This means they cannot look the person they are speaking to in the eye, which can also make it hard to completely understand what someone is feeling.

Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has also had its effects on the project. Since the start of the crisis, the hotline has experienced a 50% increase of calls from children, mostly about loneliness, depressed feelings/thoughts, and suicidal thoughts. This has been difficult for the organization in terms of scaling up, leaving them worried that there may be children who feel they have lost this point of contact, or whose anxieties are going unheard (Morsch 2021).

You can reach the Kindertelefoon at or by phone (0800 0432).


De Kindertelefoon (2020). “Over Ons.” Kindertelefoon. At

De Kindertelefoon (2021). “Met de Kindertelefoon kun je over alles praten.” Kindertelefoon. At

Morsch, P. (2021). Interview Communicatiespecialist de Kindertelefoon [Personal communication].

NPO Radio 1 (2018). “Deze Dag Toen: De Kindertelefoon wordt opgericht.” NPO Radio 1. At

UNHR (1989). “Convention on the Rights of the Child.” United Nations Human Rights. At

IsGeschiedenis (2019). “Oprichting van de kindertelefoon.” IsGeschiedenis. At

De Kindertelefoon

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