UNODC Listen First Campaign
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the containment measures taken in many countries around the world, UNODC is relaunching its prevention Listen First campaign, aimed at raising awareness and providing advice to parents and adults involved in the care and education of children and adolescents in order to help them dealing with the current situation and promote the healthy and safe development of children and adolescents.
History and concept of the campaign
Launched on the sidelines of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the world drug problem who took place in New York in 2016, the Listen First campaign is an initiative led by the governments of France and Sweden, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The campaign, based on science, aims to raise awareness and support parents and the adult community closely surrounding children and young people (families, educators, teachers, health and prevention professionals) in order to strengthen their psychosocial skills and promote the well-being and healthy development of children and young adults. It helps to prevent, from an early age, the development of violent behavior, addictive behavior or drug use.
This initiative places particular emphasis on the importance of adults listening to children and adolescents. The concept of caring listening is at the heart of the campaign, which is based on scientific studies, including the latest findings in neuroscience. These show that paying attention to young people, complimenting them and avoiding all forms of verbal violence not only prevents the development of addictive behavior, violence and drug use but also significantly increases the well-being of populations.
The campaign, developed by UNODC in partnership with WHO, continues to be supported by France through the Interministerial Mission for the Fight against Drugs and Addictive Behavior (MILDECA), placed under the authority of the French Prime Minister, who provides funding.
MILDECA also supports the Strong Families program implemented by the UNODC, which target particularly vulnerable families (refugees, displaced persons, disadvantaged environments) and aims, in particular through training of trainers, to support parents and adults involved in the care and education of children and adolescents by helping them to strengthen their psychosocial skills and their exchanges with these children or adolescents. This is a more practical and more targeted version of the Listen First campaign. The French contributions enable UNODC to develop this program in West Africa, particularly in Senegal and Ivory Coast.
Evolution of the campaign in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
The current COVID-19 pandemic has led many governments to take containment measures. These unprecedented circumstances for many families can cause stress and organizational and emotional upheaval for both children and parents. The balance between work, when it is still possible, household chores and child-rearing may be more difficult to achieve. The authorities in many countries, including France, are also noting an increase in domestic violence linked to the confinement of populations, some of which can have tragic consequences.
In response to this unprecedented situation, UNODC has therefore relaunched the Listen First campaign by adapting it and putting specific documents online, particularly for parents. These materials aim to prevent violent behavior and to provide parents or caregivers of children and adolescents with tips and tools to help them cope with the current situation by listening and talking with their children.
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