Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health
Director, Program on Forced Migration and Health
Past Research: Professor Boothby, a child psychologist, has focused on the effects of armed conflict and violence on children in Cambodia (1980-82), Mozambique (1988-2005), Guatemala (1983-86), former Yugoslavia (1992-3), Rwanda (1994-96), Darfur (2005-present), Palestine (2001-present), and Indonesia (200-present). His longitudinal study of adult outcomes for child soldiers in Mozambique enabled him to identify interventions and community supports linked to positive life outcomes. Lessons learned from the Mozambique research are now being applied through UNICEF and other operational agencies to current war-affected countries with large numbers of child soldiers. A second focus of his work has been on children separated from their families during war and refugee emergencies. His cornerstone study showed that most child-family separations are not accidental, but instead result from abductions and misguided agency policies and practices. This observation has been translated into international standards (including in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and UNHCR Refugee Policy) and inter-agency guidelines (International Committee of the Red Cross-UNICEF-Save the Children-International Rescue Committee).
Present Research: Boothby is a child psychologist, senior advisor to several humanitarian organizations, lead author of a recent (November 2006) book on refugee children, and Director of the Program on Forced Migration and Health at the Mailman School of Public Health. He is the PI of several ongoing research projects. One project focuses on the application of public health methodologies to human rights concerns, specifically development of a method to establish prevalence rates of rape and gender-based violence among refugee women girls, as well as on children associated with fighting forces. A second research project focuses on the development of an evidence base for efficacious child protection programming in crisis situations, in partnerships with operational agencies in five countries: Sierra Leone, Liberia, (northern) Uganda; Sri Lanka; and (Aceh) Indonesia. A general theme in these five country studies is how to integrate child protection into broader humanitarian responses. One of the key findings emerging from this multi-country research is the importance of economics and livelihoods on child protection—or exploitation.
Future Research: In the future, Boothby’s work is likely to include closer operational research partnerships with UNICEF and other key actors to address key child protection program learning needs and policy gaps. Toward this goal, Boothby has recently secured a grant to establish a learning network to be comprised of 30-40 child protection agencies from around the globe. The network aims to establish guidelines for community-managed child care and protection in emergency settings through the collaborative action of humanitarian organizations, local institutions, and academic partners. It also will work to identify and disseminate NGO-tested innovations and local experiences to strengthen program models and influence
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