National Campaign: Be the Hand That Loves and the Word That Guides
12 September 2022
UNICEF and partners are launching a comprehensive campaign to promote non-violent disciplining of children
In the last 15 years, there are fewer and fewer children in Serbia who are exposed to violent discipline in their homes. However, almost half (45 percent) of children aged one to 14 still experience physical and psychological disciplining. Such methods are most often applied to small children who have experienced their first physical punishment between 2 and 3 years of age.
It is encouraging that over 90 percent of parents agree that violent discipline is not good for their child. It hurts and humiliates a child, leads to feelings of mistrust and insecurity, while undesirable behaviours are often repeated. Authority that is built on fear and violence produces fear and violence that a child transfers to relationships with others, often throughout his or her life.
The disparity between widespread awareness that violent disciplining is not good and the fact that it is still practiced suggests that today’s parents, more than ever, need support in overcoming the challenges of parenting, as well as help with adopting alternative, positive disciplining practices.
“Many parents in Serbia use positive disciplining methods when raising their children. However, there are also those for whom hitting, anger and yelling are the first and only reaction to a child's challenging behaviour. Those parents love their children, but need support to change their behaviour, which is often caused by the complexity of modern living. We want to help them, to encourage them to stop, to think and try to approach that challenge in a way that is better and more effective for both the child and their mutual relationship. That's why we advise them to count to 5, to calm down and give their best to the child. We know that this is exactly what every parent is striving for. By setting a positive example, parents help their children to establish boundaries that are based on understanding and respect,” said Deyana Kostadinova, UNICEF Representative in Serbia. She emphasized that “A child has the right to care, safety and upbringing that respects his or her individuality, and parents have the right to support in fulfilling their role”.
Over the next month, UNICEF will carry out a series of activities in Belgrade, Niš, Novi Sad, Novi Pazar, Čačak, Kragujevac and Subotica as part of the Be the Hand That Loves and the Word That Guides campaign. An intensive programme of long-term support for parents to improve their parental disciplining practices will be launched through the training of experts in centres for social work, as well as in the health and education systems, who through their daily practice meet with parents in nearly 50 locations across Serbia.