The brief outline for this item makes reference to the most recent WT on the subject of "reaching out" (August 2016 - pages 20 - 29) If you are a Jehovah's Witness and thinking about becoming a Ministerial Servant or Elder, then please consider the following information prior to attending the KH for this week’s WT “Study” and the week after. If you are a JW who is practicing as a health or social care professional, then the information below is especially pertinent.
In the UK, if you are a member of one of the caring professions, you will likely have to undertake mandatory child protection training. This is divided into different levels for different professional roles. Level 4 training is reserved for individuals who are named professionals - this includes named doctors, named nurses, named health visitors, named midwives (in organizations delivering maternity services), named health professionals in ambulance trusts and named GPs for primary care organizations. All NHS Trusts must have a named doctor, and nurse, for safeguarding, who will provide advice and expertise for fellow professionals and promote good practice within their organization.
Level 3 mandatory training provides a thorough understanding of child protection by covering a breadth of topics relevant to anybody with a responsibility for safeguarding children and young people. This includes... child development and negative influences on it; parenting capacity; the forms of abuse and signs of abuse; recognizing and responding to abuse, with specific guidance on note taking and recording your concerns; lessons learned from recent serious case reviews; the legal framework; working together and good practice.
Level 2 mandatory training is designed for anyone who comes into contact with children through their work or leisure activities and aims to provide a practical awareness of the issues relating to the protection of children.
BoE are not provided with any of the above levels of training (including level 1 not mentioned here). They have a policy furnished from the USA (in 2016 slightly amended and circulated again) and which does not reflect the legal nuances of protection legislation outside the USA (nor perhaps inside the USA!). BoE are instructed to approach their branch upon receipt of any allegation of child abuse. There is no indication that those in the branch who might receive such a call are themselves the beneficiaries of any of the training levels mentioned above. The policy which is put before elders to follow, is one which has empirically demonstrated the priority of protecting the want of the WTBTS for secrecy, rather than protection of the child. This in turn is giving rise to very polemical controversies and causing some governments to give attention to the WTBTS which attention they'd probably he happier not to receive. So too is it engendering consternation on the part of many brothers and sisters who become aware of the situation and contributes to them embarking on a path of dissent by stealth.
I have recently undertaken level 3 mandatory training and would like to share just a little of the content which serves to show the gulf between the thinking and likely actions of child protectors, verses the callous and didactic self interest pursuits of the WTBTS.
Definition of child abuse:"The abuse of children occurs when there is deliberate or non-deliberate mistreatment; or when the direct or indirect actions of an individual or organization fail to protect children from significant harm or affects diversely their physical, psychological and emotional development of wellbeing".
Readers may readily see the WTBTS fitting into that part of the definition which I've highlighted in bold. Were the WTBTS the example of love which they so frequently assert, then their present functioning would not so readily fall into place in the highlighted definition surely.
Hidden child abuse:"One of the biggest problems in determining the presence of child abuse is the fact that much of it goes unnoticed or unreported."
The way the WTBTS deals with the matter is such that it reinforces abuse events being unreported. The channel of communication is designated narrowly as the BoE and the branch legal desk. There is no evidence that this channel of communication serves to protect a child at risk.
The trained carer vs the untrained elder: "There may be occasions when a vulnerable child discloses to you about abuse that he or she has suffered. In this situation, you must remember that there are specialist police officers and social workers trained to investigate such disclosures.
In such circumstance, you may want to ask the child a lot of questions about the alleged abuse that has been disclosed. You must remember however that this is not your role.
In a situation where a child discloses, your role is to find out just enough about the alleged abuse in order to make a decision whether or not the disclosure should be referred. You may need to ask the child to clarify what is being said. You must ensure in these cases that you never use questions that would lead the child to give you a certain response.
It is essential that you do not 'contaminate' any of the evidence provided by the child by asking leading questions or putting words into the child's mouth as this could affect the case, should it later end in court.
If possible, you should write down phrases and words whilst the child is talking. These will be useful to trigger your memory when you come to recall and record your full notes following the disclosure.
Immediately following the disclosure, it is very important to record exactly what the child said in as much detail as you can remember. It is very important to use the child’s own words and vocabulary even if the words do not make a great deal of sense. It is vital that the record is of what the child actually said rather than your interpretation."
The paradigm above is one of listening and noting carefully, and being ready to refer the situation to individuals with the appropriate level of expertise - the Child Protection teams as part of local authority social services here in the UK. This paradigm serves to protect the child.
This is just a very small amount of the level 3 training. Yet it is readily noticeable that there is a huge gulf between that expected of those care professionals (listen, record, refer to appropriate expertise) who might receive a disclosure, and BoE who could receive a disclosure (contact branch legal desk). Were a member of a BoE to also be a care professional, how could he limit himself to the guidance of the WTBTS? He would be putting his professional registration at risk! Even if a member of the BoE were not to receive a disclosure, how can he continue as an elder knowing the gulf and indeed conflict between that expected in his elder role and that expected in his professional role? Surely he must conclude that the policy of the WTBTS is one which - de facto - sacrifices child safety in favour of the organisation's preference for secrecy? Surely he must see that the "legalism" articulated by Ray Franz is alive and well in this 21st century, and that within the WTBTS love sinking?
Note too the hypocrisy in the second article about reaching out (page 23 para 13) wherein it is said: “At time, though, by vigorously defending yourself, you make a problem worse.” This is rather shocking for the GBoJW to publish since they are at the very forefront in vigorously defending themselves and making a problem worse. For example – the Britain Branch’s attempt to obstruct the Charity Commission’s investigations re child safeguarding. In the USA, there is also Bro Losch’s refusal to be yielding in response to a subpoena by the California Supreme Court on a matter of child abuse. What was that oft published counsel to be yielding to the superior authorities?
Bearing in mind the high standard for child protection in the UK and the laxity of protection on the part of the WTBTS, you might wish to think twice before reaching out for appointment as a MS or elder in the WTBTS / Cong’s of JWs. Reaching out in this organization serves only to imperil you in many ways. Thus, there is plenty of scope to reflect upon Jesus’ sage advice: “… You must be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves. You must be careful. You must be discerning. You must be on your guard.” Matthew 10:16,17 (Voice translation).