Vermont Child Marriage Workshop – 2023

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Child marriage is still legal in the state of Vermont. Beyond the harmful effects, it puts officiants in an ethical quandary. This informative workshop will highlight the social, emotional, and ethical problems connected with child marriage, the need for “brightline” (no exceptions) laws, and what Vermont marriage officiants, clerks and citizens can do to advocate for change.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • Describe the social, emotional and ethical issues connected to child marriage
  • Explain the need for brightline legislation
  • Discuss how to apply content knowledge to advocacy efforts

Please scroll down to access the presentation. It was recorded live on January 25, 2023.

About the Presenters

Representative Carol Ode sponsors legislation to end child marriageHonorable Carol Ode, of Burlington, Chittenden District 6-1, sponsored a bill to end child marriage in Vermont. She is the granddaughter of immigrants and is serving her third term and– after two terms on the House Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Committee– is now on the House Ways and Means Committee. She serves on LCAR, the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, and on the Lake Champlain Citizens Advisory Committee, which is part of the federal Lake Champlain Basin Program. Governor Howard Dean appointed her to the Vermont State Board of Education of which she was also chair. Carol served on the Burlington School Board for more than ten years, where her peers elected her chair for seven consecutive years.

Marcie Hambrick has a PhD in Sociology from Georgia State University with a Family, Health, and Life Course orientation. She also holds a Master of Social Work from Florida State University, and a Bachelor of Social Work from Dalton State College. She is the Director of Research and Programs at Prevent Child Abuse Vermont in the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Division. She has presented widely on topics of the intersection of housing instability and food insecurity, health care worker emotional burnout, and child sexual abuse prevention. Dr. Hambrick’s primary focus is on implementing best practices in child sexual abuse prevention using developmentally appropriate and trauma-informed interventions that recognize adult responsibility for protecting children. She believes in programming that encompasses prevention of both victimization and perpetration. Pronouns: she / her

Loretta Jay is an expert in marriage ceremoniesLoretta Jay leads the professional association for civil marriage officiants in the Northeast, advancing training opportunities and pursuing matters that officiants care about. With a Master’s degree in community psychology, Loretta has worked on behalf of children and families for over thirty years. She initially held positions on the front lines for Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, then she managed and trained staff. Now, as a consultant, she develops and evaluates child and family-focused programs for public agencies and nonprofits, and advocates for underserved populations. Efforts to end child marriage connect her two areas of expertise: the biz of officiating marriages and children’s safety. On behalf of the Justice of the Peace Association, Loretta is an outspoken advocate, raising awareness and pushing for legislation throughout New England states. She is the immediate past-president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Fairfield (Connecticut) affiliate and currently sits on her hometown’s Human Services Commission.

Lynn Stanley, LICSW is the Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, Vermont Chapter and New Hampshire Chapter. She has clinical experience and a strong macro social work background in social policy, training and facilitation, non-profit leadership, and volunteer board coordination. She spent fourteen years with Casey Family Services: first as a clinical case manager, then providing technical assistance to foster/ adoptive parent associations, and the last six years as the Team Leader for Casey’s school-based Franklin Family Resource Center. Lynn was the Lead for the NH Afterschool Network, working to increase out of school learning opportunities for youth and closing the opportunity gap for lower income youth. She is adjunct faculty/teaching lecturer in the Social Work Department at the University of New Hampshire. Lynn earned her BA from New College of Florida and her MSW from the University of New Hampshire. She is also a proud member of Zonta.

Fraidy Reiss is the Founder and Executive Director of Unchained At Last. Fraidy Reiss was 19 when her family arranged for her to marry a man who turned out to be violent. But with no education or job, in an insular religious community where only men have the right to grant a divorce, she felt trapped. Still trapped at age 27, Fraidy defied her husband and community to become the first person in her family to go to college. She graduated from Rutgers University at age 32 as valedictorian (called “commencement speaker” at Rutgers). Her family declared her dead, but Fraidy persevered: With her journalism degree, she was hired as a reporter for the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, eventually getting promoted to the paper’s elite investigative-reporting team. She went on to a career as an investigator at Kroll, the world’s largest investigations firm. At the same time, Fraidy managed to get divorced, win full custody of her two daughters and get a final restraining order against her ex-husband. But Fraidy knows that most women and girls who want to flee or resist an arranged/forced marriage are limited by finances, religious law and social customs. For them, Fraidy founded and now leads Unchained At Last. Fraidy is recognized internationally as an expert on forced and child marriage in America. Her writing on the subject has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post and countless other publications in the US and beyond, and she has been interviewed and featured by those outlets as well as Financial Times, BBC, PBS, NPR, CBS and others. Legislation she helped to write to end or reduce child marriage has been introduced and, in some cases, already passed in multiple US states. In December 2017, Forbes named Fraidy one of Five Fearless Female Founders to Follow in 2018.