National SOS parent line 080 888 888 launched in Montenegro

PODGORICA, 6 February 2017 – The first national SOS parent line was launched today in the UN Eco House in Montenegro in the framework of an EU-funded project "Protecting children from violence and promoting social inclusion of children with disabilities in Western Balkans and Turkey." National SOS parent line, whose goal is to provide support to parents and foster families in adopting and implementing the principles of positive parenting and to contribute to prevention and reduction of corporal punishment of children, was launched at a conference opened by the EU Ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, Montenegro's Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Kemal Purisic, Head of UNICEF Montenegro, Benjamin Perks, and the executive director of NGO Roditelji, Kristina Mihailovic.

In his introductory remarks, Ambassador Orav emphasised that the protection of children has become a priority issue for EU Member States and for the EU as a whole. He noted that while violence was unacceptable regardless of its target, it is particularly worrying when it is done to children. "Here, we cannot afford to be indifferent bystanders, because the consequences of violence against children leave scars not only on them, but on the society as a whole," highlighted Orav.

Underlining the importance of family as the most suitable context for providing protection as well as physical and emotional security for children, Orav noted that home can also be a dangerous place in which it is often difficult to eliminate abuse, neglect or harmful customs. "But let us send a clear message today: discipline can never be an excuse for violence against children. We must join forces to work on preventing violence against children and on effectively responding to violation of children's rights," stated Orav, adding that the establishment of this national parent line is a great step forward in supporting families in their caregiving role in Montenegro.

Minister Purisic recalled that Montenegro, after amending its Family Law in 2016, has joined a group of about 50 countries around the world which have explicitly prohibited corporal punishment of children

On behalf of UNICEF, Benjamin Perks said that the SOS parent line will provide credible and evidence-based guidelines for parents seeking help, in a discreet and supportive manner. "This line will provide parents with advice on non-violent disciplining of children, which will strengthen, not weaken, the bond between children and their parents," said Perks. He concluded that there is no better investment in a society than promoting optimum parenting for optimum child development.

This initiative has been supported by all Montenegrin telecommunication operators and the Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services. The first national SOS parent line may be reached at 080 888 888 and is confidential, free of charge and available to all interested parents every working day from 16h00 to 20h00.