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


series: Protecting the Children by Wayne Bleier


It's not that we should tell the children, it's that we should ask the children. One of the nice things to do with children is to do community risk mapping where they identify the areas in the camp that are unsafe for them. And it's very interesting to do it for boys and for girls, but separately. Then have them come up with their own solutions.

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We can add whatever we could suggest such as; don't go to the bathroom by yourself, bring a friend, don't go to the water point by yourself, don't go collect firewood without an adult but do it as a group. For me the risk mapping is really important because children know better than we do. They know which places are risky for them and what's dangerous. That way they're more likely to engage in and be positive in preventive behaviors to protect if they come up with it by them themselves. Then we can always add and ask questions.

It's also very powerful to share this with adults because they're always surprised at what the children say and how much they actually know. I've seen that to be very effective. Adults would then work with the community to identify risky points and then compare them. It's really interesting when that happens.

We could also work with parents and let them know that these are dangerous places and these are what we suggest to be good ways to protect your children. Things such as accompany them to school in the morning; making sure they go with other children or with an adult to the water point or to the food distribution. Things like that are the way that I would address the situation.

Also, children and people are more likely to do something if they come up with the idea themselves. By assuming that they have these ideas, we are showing them respect and they're more likely also to develop a collaborative relationship with us, which is what we want.


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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