UNICEF and the Ministry of Health start an awareness raising campaign "The Early Years - An Opportunity of a Lifetime"
UNICEF Montenegro conducted a research on attitudes and practices of Montenegro’s parents with children up to 6 years old in June 2009. The research was done in a face to face interview at respondent’s home with a sample size of 1000 primary guardians. Key findings showed that there are 3 main areas on which parents/guardians need to be better informed and influenced in order to improve practices: more active role of fathers in child’s upbringing, alternatives to physical punishment and breastfeeding.
Key findings on breastfeeding:
• MICS (2005) found that only 19% of Montenegro’s women exclusively breastfeed their children within the first six months and only every fourth woman breastfeeds her baby within the first hour after birth
• 85% of parents do not know that breast milk meets all the needs of the child for nutrients.
Key findings on the role of fathers:
• When asked who primarily takes care of the child in 82% of cases the answer is mother
Key findings on the physical punishment:
• 55% of guardians say that they had to hit their child at least once during the past week. 8% of guardians hit the child 3 and more times.
Based on the findings of the reserch, UNICEF Montenegro and the Ministry of Health started a 3-month awareness raising campaign "The Early Years - An Opportunity of a Life Time". Key messages of the campaign address the main issues identified by the research:
The key messages are broadcasted on electronic media through three short videos and posted on billboards and city lights all over the Montenegro. Also, key messages will be distributed to guardians through print media and with the promotional material in primary health centers, maternity wards, hospitals and in ante-natal schools for parents.
Two spokepersons have been engaged for the campaign - Djuro Ostojic, member of Montenegrin national basketball team, who has recently become a father and Milos Scepanovic, goalkeeper of Montenegro national waterpolo team and father of two young children. They will promote a more active involvement of men in raising children in Montenegro together with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health.
The campaign will end on October 31, 2009, when a new research on attitudes and practices among Montenegro's parents with children 0-6 years old will be conducted in order to assess the increase in awareness related to key messages of the campaign.