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Recognizing When Students are Facing Forced Marriage

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
1:00 pm2:00 pm

Forced marriage impacts students from all religions, cultural backgrounds, national origins, and economic status. The challenges of detection and disclosure of this form of abuse can be complicated by the multiple coercive and manipulative tactics employed by close family and community members and subtle warning signs that may go unnoticed without proper training and awareness. Individuals at risk often feel they have limited options or fear they will not be believed if they reach out for help. These dynamics are exacerbated for children under age 18 and youth still reliant on their parents or other family and limited in their ability to self-help without the advocacy of a supportive adult.

Victims often face physical and psychological abuse, rape, denial of education and opportunity and forced marriage cases present compounded risks, including multiple perpetrators and potential victims, extreme isolation and control and travel overseas under the guise of visiting a sick relative, holidays or someone else’s wedding.

More often than not, a school social worker may be the only individual someone at risk of forced marriage has regular access to and this makes the role of school social workers critical at every level: identification, support and prevention, direct intervention and referrals, and systemic advocacy.

• The nature and scope of forced marriage in the U.S. and its impact on school age children
• The intersection of forced marriage and other forms of abuse including child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence
• Common dynamics, warning signs and coping mechanisms
• Best practices for starting a supportive conversation and identifying individuals at risk
• The complex social and cultural dynamics and the unique challenges of providing support, problem-solving and safety-planning
• Best practices for supporting individuals at risk and survivors and practical resources for referrals and technical assistance /