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Positive parenting to prevent violence against children

BIJELO POLJE, 10 April 2017 - “Spanking is not violence, it is more of a joke”. This is what a parent from Bijelo Polje said during the research on violence against children in Montenegro.

The research, published in February 2017, indicates that there is a high level of tolerance to violence against children in the Montenegrin society. Most parents (77%) said that they should not allow their children to question their decisions. This prompted UNICEF and the Government of Montenegro to launch the End Violence campaign. Its aim is to raise awareness that non-violent upbringing of children is not the same as an over permissive parenting.

Public talks on parenting organized in Bijelo Polje within the End Violence campaign in April 2017 - UNICEF Montenegro/Dusko Miljanic/2017

The exhibits of the “Museum of Family Memories”, opened in Bijelo Polje on this occasion, depict the consequences of physical punishment and neglect. This travelling exhibition, currently on display at the town shopping mall, evokes both pleasant and unpleasant childhood memories.

One of the visitors, psychologist Nejra Mekic, said that many of the featured stories reminded her of her experience as a pedagogue.

"We realize that we all have our stocks of childhood memories. This museum is a good way to become aware of the extent to which, even as adults, we still feel the pain which we experienced in childhood,” she said.

Science is clear when it comes to the potential consequences of violent methods of upbringing.

“The violence we experience in childhood not only affects children’s achievement at school, but leads to general and long-term poor outcomes in life, such as unemployment, poor health, poor results in education, problematic behaviour which leads to more crime,” UNICEF Montenegro Representative Benjamin Perks warned at the public talk involving parents and professionals, which took place in Bijelo Polje within the End Violence campaign with support from the EU and the Telenor Foundation.

The host of this event was the Mayor of Bijelo Polje Aleksandar Zuric, who said that even the minimum degree of tolerance to violence against children should alert the society.

UNICEF Montenegro Representative Benjamin Perks speaking at the public talks on parenting in Bijelo Polje together with the Mayor Aleksandar Zuric in April 2017 - UNICEF Montenegro/Dusko Miljanic/2017

"This is an issue that we need to address in a more decisive way when it comes to laws, but also more thoroughly when it comes to the upbringing from pre-school age and throughout the entire schooling period,” he said, adding that, with regard to child protection, Bijelo Polje was a leader in the region, hosting a number of support services for the prevention of violence and neglect. Examples of good practice that are established in Bijelo Polje include a school for parents’ education, parent counselling service at the Centre for Social Work and the programme to empower single mothers.

Recently, another support service has been made available to parents in Montenegro in support of positive parenting – the helpline which enables parents to share their dilemmas with the professionals and ask for advice. Lepa Zunjic, from the NGO “Parents” said that this helpline was available every working day from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“Wherever you live and however busy you may be as parents, you can call from your home or your office to get advice,” she said, pointing out that all phone calls to the number 080 888 888 were free of charge and anonymous.

Through the local events of this kind, the End Violence campaign invites the society, in particular the professionals, to join parents in the search for the solutions that will enable both parents and children to grow together.



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