Montenegro’s National Action Plan 2017–2021 to prevent and protect children from violence was developed through multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral consultations. These consultations included representatives from the government, UNICEF, non-governmental organizations, academia, the media, and youth networks. They identified the vision, goals and strategic objectives with a multidisciplinary response. They also covered key areas, such as schools, primary health care centers, social services and the judicial system.
In addition, community-based multidisciplinary teams now operate in 17 municipalities, all of which focus on preventing domestic violence and violence against children. These teams have created a comprehensive multi-sectoral approach to the protection of children from all forms of neglect, abuse, violence and exploitation.
In 2013, the first survey on adverse childhood experiences was carried out in 2013. It reported a high prevalence of violence and other adversities in childhood at a policy dialogue supported by the World Health Organization. Also in 2013, the research institute Ipsos carried out a survey on the awareness, attitudes and practices of violence against children, which was contracted by UNICEF.
In 2016, Ipsos carried out a survey among the public related to violence against children, which was contracted by the SOS Helpline for Women and Children Victims of Violence (Niksic), the Centre for Women's Rights, and UNICEF.
In addition, research was conducted on the online experiences of children and parents within the Global Kids Online research network developed by UNICEF Innocenti, in collaboration with the London School of Economics.
Montenegro’s action plan aims to implement multiple INSPIRE strategies. The proposed interventions include initiatives to:
(a) amend the Labour Code to incorporate provisions stipulating a record of no prior convictions for severe violence against children, in particular for sexual exploitation or abuse, as a job requirement for people working with children;
(b) eliminate the repeated victimization of children and witnesses by setting up separate child-friendly rooms in courts and prosecution offices, separating the child from their perpetrators, using video links to interview children in separate rooms and upgrading the equipment to do so;
(c) enhance the quality and frequency of home visits by nurses to families with newborn babies; and
(d) set up child and adolescent psychiatric wards and develop quality services to work with the perpetrators of violence against children.
Following the 2017 Action Plan, the Ministry of Health began strengthening home care services and developing a protocol on the work of health care institutions in prevention and response to violence against children. At the same time, the Ministry of Interior issued guidelines for institutions to identify and prosecute cases of child marriage and domestic partnership.
Within the WePROTECT global programme on fighting online child sexual exploitation, the Net Friend educative mobile app for children was launched to raise awareness of online safety among children and the general public. Though the first helpline for children affected by violence was established in 2012, in 2017, a national parental helpline was launched, providing free counseling for parents in need of support.
In 2018, the Parenting for Lifelong Health Program was piloted and implemented by health centers, kindergartens and non-governmental organisations. This program targets parents of children from age 2-9, helping them enhance parenting skills and ultimately, reduce rates of child abuse and neglect.
In 2019, End Violence and our partners are working to:
- By supporting a midterm review of the Montenegro Strategy for the Prevention and Protection of Children from Violence and the Action Plan 2017–2021.
- By investigating opportunities for pre-accession funding from the European Union in regard to preventing and responding to violence against children.
- By implementing evidence-based national guidelines on health sector response to child maltreatment with support of the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.
- By training front-line healthcare providers in identification of and response to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
- By documenting Montenegro’s work around youth engagement as an example for other countries in the region.
- By ensuring that the 2016 ban prohibiting corporal punishment is implemented, including through training on parenting programs and awareness-raising campaigns.