Tinkle Friend: Answering the Call for Help
Beaten by her parents and bullied by her elder brother, nine-year-old Jenny* felt alone and unloved. But then she turned to the web, and discovered a bubbly blue friend who was willing to listen and give her support, advice and information.
Jenny is one of 664 children who have found comfort from using the new Tinkle Friend Online Chat, a national online chat service that reaches out to lonely pre-teens. It is run by Singapore Children’s Society, and is manned by trained staff and volunteers.
Jenny was eventually referred to her school counsellor, and clearly feels better for it.
“Thank you, Tinkle Friend. You are very kind and helped me with my problems,” she said after Tinkle Friend lent her a listening ear.
Currently the only online chat service in Singapore for children, Tinkle Friend Online Chat (www.tinklefriend.com) was officially launched on 21 April at West View Primary School as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of its offline counterpart, the Tinkle Friend Helpline.
The latter, a national toll-free line, was launched in 1984 for children who needed a listening ear.
Over the last 30 years, it has dealt with thousands of calls. But as young ones become more internet savvy, it made sense to have an online presence too, explained Ms Rachel Tan, Director of the Society’s Student Service Hub (Bukit Merah).
The online chat service is available from 2.30pm to 5.30pm on weekdays, while the helpline (1800 2744 788) operates from 9.30am to 11.30am and from 2.30pm to 5pm on weekdays.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the child.