Jehovah`s Witness/Child abuse
It has been some time since I have been here and just been reading a couple of posts about child abuse. Some of the people on this board from opposing sides get very personal to the point where I would not trust what they have to say. I trust you to give a fair and reliable account of what you know about why your elders do not report child abuse and how do you feel about the many cases of abuse that have been reported.
That is a reasonable question and I understand how what some web sites say about this matter disturbs people.
First I want to agree that there is to much bad feelings being expressed from both camps. People are attacking individuals and not the message that each one presents. When Jesus was here we are that “When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously” 1 Peter 2:23
I wish so often that the men involved on both sides would take notice of that text and act in a manner that they say they represent – followers of Christ
Now, why don't elders report child abuse
In states where there is mandatory reporting, elders do comply with the law and report such cases. Last year in the State of Victoria there was an governmental hearing on child abuse in Australia as it relates to “Churches”. At the time of the hearing the “clergy” in that state were not under obligation to report abuse cases. The hearings were to find out how the different “Churches” handled the matter. One of the issues that came up and is often reported on in the express is that elders are told to call the local branch of the WTBTS when they hear of any such cases. As a result some anti JW people claim that the elders are told to avoid reporting the abuse.
As a general rule JW elders have no training in the law. There would be extremely few JW elders that have any law training at all. The law is a complicate beast. It differs from country to country and from state or territory within a country. To make sure that elders comply with the law of the jurisdiction they are in they are advised to phone the Bethel (Watchtower administration) that looks after the area where they live to find out just what the law is and just how to handle the matter according to law to protect ALL involved.
Mandatory reporting is not law in all places even in today’s society. Many places have only introduced mandatory reporting in the last 10 years or so
In places where mandatory reporting of the “clergy” is law, elders must, and do report what they are told. Some places have mandatory reporting but “clergy”are exempt. Some places do not have mandatory reporting.
Why do not elders report it any way out of a moral obligation to the victim? Because many victims do not want what happened to them to be made public, and many victims do not want the trauma of going through a court case. Elders have been instructed for many years to encourage the victim to report the abuse to the the rightful authorities if they so wished
Why do the elders need two witnesses to such a crime before they do something? Because of Bible principles
“‘Every fatal striker of a soul should be slain as a murderer at the mouth of witnesses, and one witness may not testify against a soul for him to die.
“At the mouth of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one dying should be put to death. He will not be put to death at the mouth of one witness.
“ But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two more, in order that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established.
“ Also, in YOUR own Law it is written, ‘The witness of two men is true.’
2 Corinthians 13:1
“This is the third time I am coming to YOU. “At the mouth of two witnesses or of three every matter must be established.”
1 Timothy 5:19
“Do not admit an accusation against an older man, except only on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
"Any man that has disregarded the law of Moses dies without compassion, upon the testimony of two or three."
The two witnesses rule is NOT limited to two people witnessing the same event. In the case of child abuse, especially pedophilia, that seems to be always done in secret. It can be two people who make similar accusation, medical reports, DNA testing, photographs etc . The two witness rule applies ONLY to the action the the elders are able to take in the congregation. Is the person a threat to the spiritual, emotional and physical well being of the congregation, and, is the person unrepentant.
At times even though a person is repentant they can be removed from the congregation if the offence (no matter what it was) is widely known.
Then there are the innocent victims that are the so called perpetrators.
I personally know of 2 cases where accusations were made, and in the courts proved to be false. One man had about 20 charges brought against him, and, in the courts, he was proved innocent on ALL counts. He was disfellowshiped before the court case because of the 2 witness rule. The second witness was medical reports saying the girl was no longer a virgin. (it proved to be that the girl had been sexually active with a boy from school). He was later reinstated into the congregation. That was back in the 1990s and there is an old saying “mud sticks” even to day he has some that “bad mouth” ans spread hurtful rumors even though he is innocent of all charges.
The other case the man was not disfellowshiped. The accusations came about because under hypnosis of the girl, a “repressed memory” was highlighted. That was proved to be wrong.
So it is a very difficult thing to have to report such incidence. At times the true victim of abuse does not not to have to go through all the trauma of a court case and at other times it is a false accusation. Anyone in that position of hearing of abuse is caught between a rock and a hard place. The courts have their place in this and the elders have their limited place in these situations.
Here is a web site that as far as I know has not been updated for some time but it will give you more details as to what the policies are for JWs in this regard
I have seen so many reports of Child abuse on the internet in regard to JWs that I know that there have been many true cases. It is sad that same JWs seen to bury their head in the sand when this subject comes up, but then again so do so many people in all walks of life.
I recently was told of a relative of mine (an uncle) who was never a JW that molested the step daughter of his cousin back in the late 1950s and 60s. From what I was told other family members evidently know of this but no one said a thing. That attitude was the norm for many years. It has only been in the last 15 plus years that the subject is being more openly discussed. Even today it is a taboo subject for many people of all walks of life which is sad. It is something that people just do not want to acknowledge that such horrible things happen.
Most of the cases I have seen in relation to JWs refer to “rank and file” members or family members of the victim. Very few have to do with individuals in positions of “authority”. No organisation or group of people that I know of are exempt form this sort of crime. It is the way it is handled that matters. Unfortunately there have been a few cases where the elders involved have not followed correct procedures. They have to live with their conscience some people do not follow procedures ans be aware that they are accountable before God for their own actions
Galatians 6:4, 5
“5 For each one will carry his own load.”
“Who are you to judge the house servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for Jehovah can make him stand.”
2 Corinthians 5:10
“For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each one may get his award for the things done through the body, according to the things he has practiced, whether it is good or vile.”
Here is a sample of what was printed back in 1993. the fact that this article appeared in our magazine back then tells me that there had been some cases reported within congregations. This is at a time when people were still very very wary about talking about such matters.
g93 10/8 p. 9 If Your Child Is Abused
TO STOP abuse, you must know it when you see it. In the numerous books on the subject, experts have listed dozens of telltale signs of abuse that parents can watch for. These include: complaints of pain while urinating or defecating, genital infections, abrasions or lesions in the genital area, the sudden onset of bed-wetting, appetite loss or other eating problems, precocious sexual behavior, a sudden fear of such places as school or parts of the house, periods of panic, an extreme fear of undressing, a fear of being alone with a familiar person, and self-mutilation.
However, be careful about jumping to conclusions. Most of these symptoms do not by themselves necessarily mean that a child has actually been sexually abused. Each could indicate some other problem. But if you see disturbing symptoms, gently broach the subject, perhaps with such a statement as: “If anyone ever touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, I want you to know that you can always tell me, and I’ll do all I can to protect you. Has anything like that ever happened to you?”—Proverbs 20:5.
If your child discloses sexual abuse, you will no doubt feel shattered. But remember: Your reaction will play a major role in the child’s recovery. Your child has been carrying an unbearable burden and needs you, with all your adult strength, to lift it from her or his shoulders. Praise the child for being so brave as to tell you what happened. Repeatedly reassure the child that you will do your best to provide protection; that the abuse was the abuser’s fault, not the child’s; that the child is not “bad”; that you love the child.
Some legal experts advise reporting the abuse to the authorities as soon as possible. In some lands the legal system may require this. But in other places the legal system may offer little hope of successful prosecution.
What, though, when the abuser is one’s own beloved mate? Sad to say, many women fail to take decisive action. To be sure, it is never easy to face the ugly reality of a mate who is a child abuser. Emotional ties, and even financial dependency, can be overwhelmingly strong. The wronged wife may also realize that taking action could cost her husband his family, his job, his reputation. The hard truth is, though, that he may just be reaping what he has sown. (Galatians 6:7) Innocent children, on the other hand, stand to lose much more if they are not believed and protected. Their whole future is at stake. They do not have the resources that adults have. Trauma can scar and shape them adversely for life. They are the ones who need and deserve tender treatment.—Compare Genesis 33:13, 14.
Parents must therefore make every reasonable effort to protect their children! Many responsible parents choose to seek out professional help for an abused child. Just as you would with a medical doctor, make sure that any such professional will respect your religious views. Help your child rebuild his or her shattered self-esteem through a steady outpouring of parental love.
I hope I have been of some help
Please feel free to ask any more questions