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


series: Protecting the Children by Wayne Bleier


What can care caregivers do to prevent or to respond to incidences of trafficking?

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First of all, they should not allow strangers or people that aren't working in the center into the center without permission of their program manager. Whether it's journalists, whether it's police, whoever.

[If] anyone can come in there--we don't want that. This is a safe place where children are interacting with care givers. We don't, we don't want people coming in there who aren't supposed to be there to get to know the children.

If you know the children, they'll tell you what's going on.

They'll tell you, "Oh, my sister went away."

"Why did your sister go away?"

"Well because a man offered her a job."

You know that that's another thing. If we have a good relationship with the children, we know them. Maybe they'll be able to tell us.

Another thing is attendance. It's important to keep attendance because if a child isn't there for a few days, you want to find out why that child is not there?

That child could be promised to be married and they're getting ready for marriage. Or, that child could have disappeared. We want to know that as soon as possible.

The other thing we can do is prevention. We need to give children messages about what to do if they get in that situation.

Often it's a funny thing because we talk about strangers, but often it's a person they know that will ask the mother or father, you know, "Hey I want your daughter to work in this place. She'll get paid well.

It's not often a stranger. They might be working with someone outside the camp, but it's often someone they know--just as child marriage is often somebody they know. These are things that children need to know. They need to know to tell you if there is something like that.

For me, the prevention part is really important. Also, working with the parents--whether it's through the child protection committee, a parent group, or having a meeting with the parents. Letting them know that it's not a good idea if people are coming, asking them to give their children jobs or to marry them. It often leads to worse things like prostitution or exploitation of some kind.

I found that parents are trying to do the right thing and they do respond to specific information and, and support.

I think the other thing that's very important in dealing with this is getting the help of religious leaders. If you can get a religious leader to talk to the community about this, it'll have a much bigger impact than you, yourself.

I have seen that where a parent committee in one of the camps I worked in--in a child friendly space--had an imam. They were able--and community leaders--and they were able to stop at least eight child marriages and trafficking because people were coming in and asking. They told the parents that this is not okay.

So, it can work. It can work.


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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