fromBarbara Anderson/charities commission child abuse inquiry UK

by zeb 12 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • zeb
    zeb

    Jehovah’s Witnesses “Child Safeguarding Policy” (Great Britain, Ireland, UK) – 2017

    Analysis of the CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND [2017]

    by Barbara Anderson

    2013’s “WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF BRITAIN and CONGREGATIONS OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY” (WTB&TS of Britain’s CSP) document was considered to be the official Watch Tower policy until the release on January 1 of the 2017 “CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, etc.,” (CSP of JWs in the UK).”

    One of the first things I noted about the newer document is the removal of the name in the title, “WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF BRITAIN and CONGREGATIONS OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY.”

    That title was replaced by an abbreviated name: “CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND.”

    Child Safeguarding Policy – January 2017

    Apparently, as of January 1, 2017, the CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY under discussion belongs to – and speaks for – the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) and does not belong to – or speak for – the legal entity, WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF BRITAIN (WTB&TS of Britain), Company No. 3858051, and Registered Charity #1077961. JWs have been affiliated with that entity since its incorporation under the Companies Act 1985 as a Private Limited Company on October 8, 1999.

    [Read official statement by UK Commission regarding the Watch Tower’s response to update their Policy]

    I can only guess that this CSP of JWs in the UK POLICY document, which is similar to the original one, represents the CSP of JWs in the UK – and not of the WTB&TS of Britain’s CSP – because of legal liability. Otherwise, why would they make this change?

    When I compared the 2017 CSP of JWs in the UK (first six pages) with the 2013 WTB&TS of Britain’s CSP document, I found that many of the “Statements” remained the same. Some “Statements” were rephrased but were otherwise quite similar. There are also a few new paragraphs which I do not consider significant. [Link to 2013 CSP Document]

    Upon further investigation, it seems obvious that when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among JWs – their children – no real safeguards have been put into place by the religion to protect them from molestation.

    Just as in the 2013 POLICY, most of the 2017 Policy Statements from #’s 2-17 are solely for directing elders about what they should do after a child has been abused, not what they are to do to prevent or protect children from sexual abuse.

    Furthermore, another glaring omission is obvious – as was the case in the previous CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY. Number 9 states: “…a congregation member who learns of child abuse may choose to report the matter to the secular authorities.” There is no mention of any encouragement by elders to go to the secular authorities. As usual, the wording leaves reporting up to individual Witnesses who learn of child abuse. Again – please note the phrasing “may choose to report the matter to the secular authorities.”

    I could not help but remember reading the November 1, 2016 (page 7) Body of Elders letter sent to all congregations. There was a reference to the matter of property damage to Kingdom Halls from “break-ins, thefts, incidents of arson, or other acts of vandalism.” The rule is to “promptly report it to the local authorities.” There is no indication that elders may choose to report the damage to the authorities in those situations.

    Apparently, for elders buildings are more important than children.

    Whether it is appropriate to investigate allegations of child abuse or not, JW leaders will continue this practice – even going so far as to italicize the word, “every” in Policy Statement #11: “After receiving assistance from the branch office, congregation elders will conduct a Scriptural investigation [underline mine] of every allegation of child sexual abuse.”

    Will these stubborn men never learn to instruct elders to bow out of doing an investigation into child abuse allegations and immediately call the authorities?

    However, in #13 there is an exception to the rule: “A report to the police or other appropriate authorities will be made immediately by the congregation elders if it is determined that a child is still at risk.” This sentence was also in the 2013 Policy. However, what if the child is “not at risk”? What then? Apparently, in that case, elders do not report the abuse to the police.

    How do elders determine that a child is still at risk? Do they get their DNA forensic kit out of the trunk of their cars? And with their lack of training in this regard, wouldn’t it be difficult for them to use a forensic kit properly?

    There is another issue raised by critics of JW policies and practices. It relates to the Watch Tower’s refusal to address the issue of “repentant” abusers and how much secrecy is accorded to those members within congregations. That is a big omission! It’s almost as if abusers never repent – which is what most of them do if they confess or are proven guilty. And, we all know, “repentance” leads to elders never revealing the names of “repentant molesters” to members of their congregations. We also know that unrepentant molesters will be disfellowshipped – but other JWs are not informed about why they were removed.

    After six pages of negligible, trivial instructions of how to protect children within the CSP, the leaders of this religion attached every article written in their literature about child sexual abuse, as if that was their sole responsibility – instructing everyone else, parents included – about how to protect children within their religion.

    They have to believe they have no responsibility other than doing this. If they thought they had a responsibility, they would have included clear-cut information about how they propose to protect children from a JW molester such as many other religions are now doing. For one thing, background checks should be required for anyone in an “appointed position” who will be around children not one’s own. In addition, they should give a flat-out order to all members to report child known or suspected sexual abuse by another member to the authorities. That would serve to prevent other children from being molested by that known perpetrator.

    And one other point…

    Statement #16 (which was #17 in the old 2013 Policy) has been completely rewritten. It reads: “A person who has engaged in child sexual abuse does not qualify to receive any privileges or to serve in a position of trust or responsibility in the congregation for many years, if ever.”

    The 2013 Policy Statement #17 doesn’t state “if ever” and is a bit different: “A person known to have abused a child in the past, and who continues to pose a risk to children or is not irreprehensible, does not qualify [underline mine] to serve in a position of trust or responsibility in the congregation.-1 Timothy 3:1-7, 10; Titus 1:7.”

    The only statements in this Policy that touch on the actual subject of the CSP of JWs in the UK are #1-3, 6, 19-22 – and these do not protect children.

    Personally, I don’t believe that the Charity Commission should accept whatever the CSP of JWs in the UK offers as their “policy document,” but guidelines should be given to the CSP of JWs in the UK by the Commission. Then, if the CSP of JWs in the UK policies is not in line with Commission regulations, there should be penalties. Most importantly, Commission regulations should be in line with child sexual abuse laws of the country. If needed to keep children safe, the Commission should press the government to change or adjust the laws in this regard.

    In the following paragraph, I basically repeat the conclusion I came to and wrote about in my analysis of the 2013 CHILD SAFEGUARDING POLICY OF THE WTB&TS OF BRITAIN. I doubt that I can express my feelings any better on this matter:

    “In conclusion, I’m hopeful that the Charity Commission will require the CSP of JWs in the UK Board of Trustees to implement policies that would truly safeguard JW children as they interact socially with JW elders and their assistants, and while adhering to their religious obligations.”

    (This is a direct lift from Barbara excellent watchtower documents site. Thank you Barbara for all your most noble work.)


  • steve2
    steve2

    Excellent updated document. Thanks for posting.

    “After receiving assistance from the branch office, congregation elders will conduct a Scriptural investigation [underline mine] of every allegation of child sexual abuse.”

    So the very first step is to contact the branch office for "assistance" and they then conduct their own investigation which is for what purpose exactly? These are men who have received no approved or best-evidence training in "investigating" allegations of child sexual abuse?

    "However, in #13 there is an exception to the rule: “A report to the police or other appropriate authorities will be made immediately by the congregation elders if it is determined that a child is still at risk.”

    No training and/or guidelines are provided to the elders on how to assess that a child is still at risk - and I can guess why they don't provide guidelines because if the alleged perpetrator is a member of the congregation, it reflects badly upon JW organization - and they don't want to be too explicit. Besides, the consideration of risk needs to be wider than the alleged victim who may not be at further risk because the alleged perpetrator has no further access to the child. But what about the safety of other children he may have access to? And how do the elders determine whether and to what extent he has such access? These are matters best handled by trained professionals, not religious elders who blindly follow their organization's "policies" and "practices".

  • zeb
    zeb

    CASE STUDY 54: INQUIRY INTO THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES AND WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA LTD

    Level 17, Governor Macquarie Tower, Sydney

    10 March 2017

    Witness List and Expected Order of Witnesses No.

    Witness

    Details

    1.

    Terrence O’Brien

    Jehovah’s Witness Branch Committee member and current director of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Australia P1

    2.

    Rodney Spinks

    Jehovah’s Witness and member of the Service Department, Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Australia P1

  • zeb
    zeb

    what! no one from the gb how curious.....

  • LevelThePlayingField
    LevelThePlayingField

    So that's it for witnesses to appear or is there more coming? I hated how O'Brien and Spinks objected to everything under the sun. Is the ocean blue? O'Brien "Ah, it depends on where you stand. Now if you mean blue like the sky then...."

    Regards to Spinks answering a question, "No, it's not like that at all. If you drop a ball from a 10 foot ceiling you see, and then using the 'half way there math principle' so half way is 5 feet, then half of that would be 2 1/2 feet. Well, you see by counting it on the way down by halfs, then mathematically the ball will never reach the floor. So, NO, it's not like that at all!" :(

    Edit: Ok, I just looked at the witness list. It's just the two eggheads, O'Brien and Spinks.

  • konceptual99
    konceptual99

    Statement #16 (which was #17 in the old 2013 Policy) has been completely rewritten. It reads: “A person who has engaged in child sexual abuse does not qualify to receive any privileges or to serve in a position of trust or responsibility in the congregation for many years, if ever.”


    The 2013 Policy Statement #17 doesn’t state “if ever” and is a bit different: “A person known to have abused a child in the past, and who continues to pose a risk to children or is not irreprehensible, does not qualify [underline mine] to serve in a position of trust or responsibility in the congregation.-1 Timothy 3:1-7, 10; Titus 1:7.”

    Interesting pick up Barbara. On the face of it, it would seem that the WTS has changed the policy so that an abuse never can serve in a position of responsibility but in fact there is still an opening. Now there is a qualification that the prohibition is only applied to those known abusers who continue to pose a risk or are not irreprehensible.

    Who decides the risk posed by a known abuser? Who is qualified or authorised to determine this? I suspect an arbitrary ruling by WT Legal will be the order of the day rather than any professional or secular assessment.

    So Witnesses here in the UK - there is still every chance that someone with a proven history of child sexual abuse could end up being an elder or MS in your congregation and you will not have any knowledge of it at all.

  • konceptual99
    konceptual99

    Also, I've just noted that a known sexual abuser may not have a position of trust or responsibility but the restriction on having "privileges" has been removed. These include things like pioneering, volunteer work at events and so on.

    If anything this new statement is even more open to someone slipping the through the net than before.

    How is it that the WTS is able to produce something that once again actually says nothing of substance and clarity?

  • smiddy
    smiddy

    I wonder why Vincent Toole `s name wasnt their .? or G .Jackson , the GB member ?. Are other witnesses likely to be asked to appear at a later date ?

    One thing (among many others) that I am interested in is how do they respond to an allegation of child sexual abuse by a JW member and their are no 2 witnesses to the allegation and it is not reported to either the police or child protection authorities and that person is still allowed to participate in the D2D ministry where children in the general community are at risk ?.

    What safegaurds are in place to protect children in the general community when an alleged perpetrator is still allowed to go D2D where children may be at home on their own when their parents are out.?

  • Xanthippe
    Xanthippe
    November 1, 2016 (page 7) Body of Elders letter sent to all congregations. There was a reference to the matter of property damage to Kingdom Halls from “break-ins, thefts, incidents of arson, or other acts of vandalism.” The rule is to “promptly report it to the local authorities.” There is no indication that elders maychoose to report the damage to the authorities in those situations.

    Yes never mind your children just look after our money.

  • Pubsinger
    Pubsinger

    This could turn out to be great news. I'm no expert but aren't all Congregations, charities in their own rights and the local elders, aren't they trustees? I was under the impression that trustees were personally liable for example if the charity ended up with a big bill they couldn't pay etc.

    If someone tries to sue the WT and fails because they have wriggled out by making 'Jehovah's Witnesses' responsible, the local elders will sooner or later be the targets. When that happens we will see genuine changes in policy, practice and procedure which will result in adequate protection for vulnerable members. Either that or a raft of elder resignations. Win/win.

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