UN Celebrates 1st ‘Parenting Month’ Anniversary
UNICEF in 2019 declared June as Parenting Month and 1st of June as Global Day of Parents. The day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly to appreciate all parents for their “selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship.”
On its first anniversary amid a pandemic, UNICEF reiterates the urgent need to prioritize investments in Early Childhood Development (ECD) including focusing on parenting during the corona crisis.
In such trying times, when one is constantly surrounded by trauma and stress, it’s essential for parents to pay special care and attention to a child’s physical as well as mental health as the services pertaining to a child’s care are not prioritised.
The key findings from a UNICEF led formative study in 2019 titled, ‘Parenting Matters: Examining Parenting Approaches and Practices,’ to assess knowledge, attitudes and practices of parents, families, are —
- At least 30 different forms of physical and verbal abuse are reported as part of disciplining efforts.
- Punishment is a widely accepted method to discipline children for both boys and girls in families, schools and at the community level for both girls and boys.
- Girls and boys are raised very differently from a very early age — with the burden of household chores, day to day restrictions, being imposed more on girls by fathers
- Mothers are the main caregivers for children while fathers are much less involved. While male caregivers took children outdoors, mothers are more involved in enabling indoor stimulation through storytelling and singing, among others.
Children’s helpline number,1098, noticed a surge of 50% in the calls, during the first 2 weeks of lockdown (April), from children in distress. The closure of schools and coaching centers and the restriction on movement due to lockdown has put immediate and intense pressure on parents to care for their children’s survival and education. The added stress has led and is leading to violence against children.
Under such circumstances, there is an immediate need to designate child protection services as essential services with an effective response team. The response has to include social welfare and child protection services like mental health and psychosocial support and alternative care arrangements.
These services should be available to all the children including orphans, migrants, and every child that is in need of help. The response team should ensure the protection of the most vulnerable children.
When times are as uncertain as these, the least that can be done is protecting the children and prioritising their health along with COVID-19 crisis.