Critical training to better protect, support, and heal vulnerable children


series: Protecting the Children by Wayne Bleier


Child marriages occur in many cultures. They just tend to increase during times of instability. Child marriages are a child protection concern because a child is deprived of a childhood.

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The girl often is put in the house. She has to do that. The housework, she is often not allowed to socialize with other children. She's also at great risk of dying in childbirth and she can't go to school or pursue an education. That's why it's a protection issue because of the rights issues that are involved.

We need to refer that case so someone can work with that family to help them see that it's in not in their best interest or in the child's best interest to be married young. I have found it important to involve community leaders and religious leaders in this because they have a much easier time talking to the parents then I would--or an aid person might.

That's why it's very important that we're working with the community from the beginning because they're the ones that can really influence people. In many cultures, the religious leaders are influential. In my experience, they're always willing to help if they're talked to respected, explained to, and asked what they can do.

[To recap: There is] the violation of the child's rights to development, [and] also the fact that if the child is educated, they will earn more money later in the future. The family will be better off.

The other thing I always talk about is, is the health part, because no parent wants their child to die in childbirth, or you know...

Child marriage is also more abuse. No one really wants their child, I don't think, to get beaten. Those are the kind of the things I talk about with them.

There's also the law, like I said before. Refugees often don't want to break the law, but they also don't know the law. It helps to know that because that is also not you telling them that they're wrong. It's the bigger picture


Wayne Bleier

Wayne is a trained child and family therapist with over 25 years of experience supervising and implementing CP programs overseas in Former -Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Rep of Congo, Indonesia, East Timor, Afghanistan, Liberia, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Uganda, Lebanon, and Bangladesh. During this time he worked with Mike Wessells at Columbia University.

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He has worked for IRC, Save the Children UK, Child Fund International, War Child UK and UNICEF. Wayne holds an MSW degree from the University of Washington. Currently he holds the position of Child Protection Manger and Case Management Specialist for DRC's program working in the Rohingya emergency in Bangladesh.


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