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Child Brides

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FILM: "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" is a one-hour documentary from NOW, the weekly newsmagazine on PBS. NOW's production team traveled to Niger, India and Guatemala to report on a global custom that devastates lives and keeps communities from prospering.


By the end of this lesson, students will:

  • Acquire additional information about the issue of child marriage
  • Explore issues of gender discrimination
  • Learn about community-based solutions
  • Understand the role of education


girls Show students the film "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" (55 minutes). Afterwards, lead the class in one of the following activities - either small group or full class.

Small Group Activity: 20 minutes
Understand the societal and generational impact of child marriage.

  1. Draw three concentric circles and label them from inner to outer: child bride, family, and community.
  2. List the consequences of child marriage for the girl (early and risky pregnancy, social isolation, lack of education, few life skills, risk of HIV/AIDS, etc.).
  3. List the consequences of child marriage for the family (malnourishment, infant mortality, less likely that children will attend school, etc.).
  4. List the consequences of child marriage for a community (loss of a vocal active member when young mother is isolated at home, political participation, fewer female role models, women as peace-makers, etc.).
  5. Draw another set of circles and list the consequences for a girl who marries later and stays in school (smaller, healthier, and better educated families, better protection, increased wages, break the cycle of poverty and sickness, etc.).

Conduct Full Class Discussion of Group Findings:

  • Compare the two circles and review the role of inter-generation consequences of education or not educating a girl.
  • Discuss what is meant when development experts speak of "cascading effects" of girls' education.

Full Class Activity Options: 20 minutes each

A. Understanding the Strength of Community-Based Strategies to End Child Marriage

  1. Review the solutions and the role of activists presented in the film:
    • Niger: changing attitudes of leadership and the sensitization brigade
    • India: intervening local administrators and boarding schools
    • Guatemala: mentoring girls and encouraging self-esteem

  2. What is the rationale behind each strategy? How do these strategies address community and family inclinations towards child marriage? How is each strategy suited for the particular community?

  3. On a chalkboard, list the advantages and disadvantages of the strategy (cost, risks, family separation, abuse of authority, etc)

  4. Do you expect long-term success with these strategies? Which do you favor?

  5. What personal traits do the activists share? How do they exhibit leadership?

B. Understanding Global Partnerships as Solutions

  1. On a chalkboard, list the various individuals and organizations working to prevent child marriage (family, teachers, community leaders, local and national government, international organizations, UNICEF, UN, etc.).

  2. What partnerships are needed for the strategy to function (community, family, government, international organizations, etc.)?

  3. What is the role of international legislation? What role do countries play in prevention? How do community strategies reflect particular traditions? Can these strategies be replicated worldwide?

  4. What would an ideal campaign address child marriage look like? How would these individual and organizations interact?


Assessment Suggestions:
  • Assign participation grades for class discussion.
  • Assign completion grades for exercise in small group activity.

Grade level: 9-12, College

Subject Areas: Sociology, Political Science, World Affairs, Women's Studies

Estimated Time Needed: Two 50-minute class periods


Fact Sheet handout


Listening and Speaking
Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

Standard 10: Understands the characteristics and components of the media

Thinking and Reasoning
Standard 1: Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting and argument

Working With Others
Standard 4: Displays effective interpersonal communication skills