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Real Lives - 2009


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
• To put that into a comparative perspective, Montenegro’s average of 19% is below the developing world average of 38% of infants under 6 months of age who are breastfed. If we are to compare this with the developed countries like Norway for example, then it is interesting to know that 98% of women leave the hospital breastfeeding, while 75% of them still breastfeed after 3-4 months.

• 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
• 41% of mothers state they mainly visited the doctor alone during pregnancy
• Only 7% of fathers attended the child birth
• 37% of breastfeeding mothers say no one helps them with nutrition and breastfeeding, cleaning and bathing the child
• 59% of fathers do not know how their child was fed
• Only 7% of fathers teach a child his/her first moral principles – what is good and what is bad
• Fathers participate less in education activities, as they more often watch TV and go for walks with children

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.
• When a child does something considered inadequate, 46% of guardians do not explain the child why this should not be done. Instead, they say “no”, distract the child’s attention to something else, put things out of the child’s reach or slap the child on the hand.
• Although mother is mainly the one who punishes (69%), this role is, however, taken by a higher percentage of fathers (21%).

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:

  • A mother’s milk is the most complete form of nutrition she can offer her newborn
  • Every child deserves the best possible start to life
  • Being a father is an opportunity of a life time
  • Active fathers strenghten self-confidence
  • Children always have time for a story
  • Children always have time to play
  • Baby always has time for a cuddle
  • Children always have time to laugh
  • Children learn how to behave by imitating the behavior of those closest to them 
  • Talk to children whenever they have done something wrong 
  • Help your child learn rules, limits, and values by explaining them
  • First years are an opportunity of the life time, but it is never too late to improve the quality of a child’s life

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.








"The Early Years - An Opportunity Of A Lifetime" - key messages and photos



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