(28 February 2017) Renowned international experts recently took centre stage during the End Violence conference in Podgorica, Montenegro. Frances Gardner, professor of Child and Family Psychology at Oxford University, Nadine Burke Harris, paediatrician globally known for her innovative approach to addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Susan Bissell, Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, among many others highlighted the meeting.
Professor Gardner gave a key note address in which she shared recent evidence on the effectiveness of parenting programmes and how they transport across cultures.
Jasmina Byrne, UNICEF Innocenti child protection specialist, chaired a special panel discussion on new efforts to support parents in Montenegro. She presented examples from global policies and practices and emphasised the need for continuous evidence-building and integration of parenting support in all sectors such as health, education and child welfare and protection.
“In order to ensure the sustainability of these programmes it is important to set up a national framework that enables their development, accreditation and monitoring,” said Byrne, “Such an approach entails collaboration of all levels of society and community, both the civil society organisations and professional associations, who are main providers of services to families, and statutory bodies that have a mandate to protect children from violence and family separation.”
The conference was organized as part of UNICEF's global “END Violence“ campaign. Montenegro joined this global campaign in July 2016. The first phase of the campaign focused on the online violence, while the second phase will also address protection of children from violence in the family and other types of environments.
“Violence and adversity in childhood, including neglect, emotional, physical or sexual abuse or dysfunctional parenting, undermine child-parents relationship with devastating consequences for the individual victim, for the community and the society“, Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Montenegro Representative pointed out, adding that “We now have overwhelming evidence that adversity and poor attachment in childhood results in much worse life-time outcomes in health, education, employment and often criminality and violence“.
UNICEF Montenegro research published in December 2016 found generally low awareness among Montenegrins about what constitutes violence, as well as high tolerance towards violence. One in two believe corporal punishment of children is acceptable and that yelling at a child is not a form of violence. Moreover, one third think that slapping and threatening children are not forms of violence, and a quarter do not recognize blackmailing as violence in the upbringing of children. A wide majority (77 per cent) believe that parents should not allow children to question their decisions.
The “End Violence“ conference, initiated by the Government of Montenegro and UNICEF, aims to spark a fresh public debate on violence against children in Montenegro to raise awareness that raising children without violence does not equate to permissiveness. It aims to support parents to adopt the best parenting practices in order to raise children without violence and to ensure that they grow up as healthy, secure adults.
High level officials from the Montenegrin central Government, the European Union and Montenegrin line ministries also attended the conference. Find more information on UNICEF Innocenti's research on family and parenting support and the drivers of violence affecting children.