More than half of young children deprived of play with fathers: UNICEF

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4-year-old Orin and his father, Marshall Mejia, play in the water during a visit to the seashore, in their hometown of Dangriga, on the south-eastern coast of Belize. Photo: UNICEF/UN035756/LeMoyne

More than half of all children aged 3 to 4, are missing out on early-learning activities with their fathers, according to new data from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The new analysis is drawn from UNICEF's Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, covering 74 countries, published just ahead of Father's Day, which will be marked in 80 countries on Sunday.

Vibhu Mishra reports.

Approximately 40 million youngsters in the 3 to 4 age group, or 55 per cent of those surveyed, are deprived of playtime or educational engagement with their fathers.

UNICEF's Director of Data, Laurence Chandy, said th at the number reveals that "fathers are struggling to play an active role in their children's early years".

"We must break down the barriers that prevent fathers from providing for their babies", he added.

He said that young children needed love, play, protection and nutritious food and parents need adequate time and resources to fully-support their offspring.

In order to encourage more fathers to play an active role, UNICEF is inviting families to post photos and videos of what it takes to be so-called "super dads", using the hashtag #EarlyMomentsMatter, on their Instagram and Twitter accounts.

The agency is also urging governments and the private sector to increase spending on early childhood development programmes that encourage parental involvement.

Neuroscientific research has shown that when young children are nurtured in a stimulating environment, new brain connections can form at a staggering speed said UNICEF, even influencing their ability to learn as adults.

Vibhu Mishra, United Nations.

Duration: 1'12"

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