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Cross-sectoral cooperation leads to empowerment of adolescents

PODGORICA, 25 September 2017 - What kind of support do adolescents in Montenegro have to achieve their full potential?

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of High School Students Union of Montenegro Andrea Micanovic explains how adolescents react when she informs them that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has sent guidelines to member states regarding the empowerment of adolescents: "A young man said that he did not even know that he had rights, let alone that there was a Committee that can force Montenegro to make those rights possible."

Last year, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child found that the potential of adolescents around the world was endangered, as there were no investments to support the adolescents. The fact that we currently have the largest number of adolescents in the world ever, as much as 1.8 billion, is a warning that we cannot ignore the needs of young people who are in this particularly sensitive age of development.


Osama Khogali, UNICEF Representative to Montenegro greeting adolescents – volunteers at the conference “The power of adolescence” that was held in Podgorica in September 2017 - UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2017

"Scientific knowledge and evidence suggest that when girls and boys of this age receive adequate support from adults, as well as when policies are implemented and services are tailored to their needs, they have the potential to stop the multi-generation cycles of poverty, discrimination and violence," says UNICEF Representative to Montenegro, Osama Khogali, at the conference "Power of Adolescence" held in Podgorica.

This information was also useful for the representatives of Montenegrin institutions, since adolescence is still not recognized as a special developmental period in Montenegrin youth policies. Montenegro has recently adopted the Youth Strategy and Youth Law, and these can be further improved by setting specific measures to support adolescents.

These were the conclusions of the IPSOS agency survey presented by Katarina Jovanović: "Given the new findings of neuroscience, it is clear that adolescence covers the period from 10 to 19 years of age. It needs to be recognized by laws and strategies which will allow experts in different institutions to systematically approach adolescents, protect their rights, empower them and support them," says Jovanović.

Montenegro is home to around 85.000 girls and boys aged 10 to 19, whom we refer to as adolescents. They make up 14% of the total population of our country. Better support for their development can be provided through a number of sports activities for young people in local communities, says the Minister of Sports Nikola Janovic.

"Sport is an insufficiently used potential in improving the psycho-physical condition of adolescents and is a very important link in the chain of their mental maturation, since it stimulates the development of personality and the expression of individuality. By taking up sports, young people reinforce self-confidence, perseverance, responsibility, a sense of fair play and teamwork, increasing their self-esteem and self-satisfaction," Janovic explains.


Director of Research and Development at the American organization CARE, Joshua Harvey, speaks about why it is necessary to provide more support for adolescents - UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2017

Experts warn that adolescence is a delicate developmental period, which is why it is necessary to provide more support for adolescents. Director of Research and Development at the American organization CARE, Joshua Harvey, has a message for decision makers: "The authorities should build systems that will at the same time respect the adolescents’ need for autonomy and independent decision-making, but also support them in satisfying their emotional, physical and social needs". Harvey also points out the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation in providing adequate support services to adolescents.

Daniel Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, warns that the adolescence should not be equated with puberty and the period of young person's impulsivity: "Adolescence is not the same as puberty, it has to do with brain transformation."

Therefore, the promotion of healthy development in the second decade of an individual's life is one of the most important long-term investments that any society can make, concludes Khogali.

“The Power of Adolescence” conference is an opportunity for the representatives of relevant institutions, civil sector, adolescents, the University of Montenegro and the private sector to share their opinions on the best ways to support adolescents in Montenegro so that they could achieve their full potential.

The conference was organized within the "Empowerment and Participation of Adolescents in Montenegro" programme, implemented by UNICEF, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Sports, with the support of the global financial institution ING. The organization of this conference was also supported by Crnogorski Telekom.

 

 
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