One Reason Why I Could Never Again be an Elder

by Nicholaus Kopernicus 13 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • Nicholaus Kopernicus
    Nicholaus Kopernicus
    There appears to be several crises inflicting themselves upon the WTBTS all at once. The crises are likely related....
    • financial difficulties - hence the increasing publicity given to contributing money
    • reduced production - probably related to above (literature and building principally)
    • love shortage - focus on caution with and separation from Bro's and Sis who dissent in any way and/or defer to scripture above WT literature and pronouncements therein
    • child endangerment - corporate interests of WTBTS take precedence over child safety and which in itself is a sign of love shortage
    It is especially the last item which I'll focus on here. 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 organisations delivering maternity services), named health professionals in ambulance trusts, named professionals NHS Direct and named GPs for primary care organisations. 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 organisation.
    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; recognising 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 and which likely 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 ocurs when there is deliberate or non-deliberate mistreatment; or when the direct or indirect actions of an individual or organisation 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 worers 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 whet the child said in as much detail as you an rememmber. It is very important to use the dhild'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 dislosure, 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 preferece 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?
  • Zoos

    When my mother was a nurse she asked to work in pediatrics because she loved children. A few months later she asked to be transferred out because she couldn't handle the trauma of tending to abuse cases.

    I imagine an elder goes into the position with a sincere desire to shepherd the flock, help people. But the reality of what they are called on to deal with these days is too much.

  • freddo
    Your post is spot on NK. Thank you. I too could never serve again as an elder largely for the same reasons as you put forward.
  • _Morpheus
    I appreciate your point. Legal issues didnt take a huge priority in my motovation to step down but it was a shadow on the back of mind at times for certain
  • OnTheWayOut

    Sticking with the subject you discussed, elders receive nothing from Watchtower about handling child abuse and caring properly for children in their midst. If anything, they receive bad training to encourage children to be more active and progress toward more active membership in the religion.

    Previous instructions to put a child in the same room with the person s/he is accusing of molestation and make the charge out loud to their face- that's been about the worst thing they could have done to a poor child.

    Even now, not officially discouraging them from going to the police, but not standing by them as they do so, along with an accusatory attitude whenever allegations come up- this is not any help at all.

    And as far as being an elder in such situations, if you were to take on training on your own, local elders would scoff at you, but then put a greater burden on you to handle ALL of these cases. And Watchtower would throw you under the bus and blame YOU for whatever results. Even without such training, following Watchtower instructions to the letter, they might still throw you under that bus.

    An individual elder can be named in lawsuits over their counsel and actions or lack of actions in cases.

    No thanks.

  • LevelThePlayingField
    When those letters to BoE originally came out years ago on how to handle cases of child abuse, that is one of the main reasons I stepped down. It really disgusted me. The one point where it said something like a person who once molested someone may not be considered a predator, that one line of logic was a really big deal to me. How can they think that? What a bunch of idiots.
  • LostGeneration

    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 and which likely 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

    Does this law apply to the members of the clergy in general? Are other priests and pastors taking the training, even if not required?

  • Nicholaus Kopernicus
    Nicholaus Kopernicus

    I am aware that many churches have designated individuals responsible for child protection - not necessarily the priests/pastors/ministers themselves.

    The training is widely available and can be fine tuned to a particular organisation's structures. Whilst there is no legal requirement to undertake such training by church representatives to the best of my knowledge, yet I'm aware of lay church members seeking it with clergy approval to forestall the risks identified in previous enquiries.

    The WTBTS on the other hand is so highly centralised, insular and pyramidal that they are remote from best practices, lack sensitivity to others' needs, and do not yield to evidence. Their risk management skills are focussed on property rather than on protection of children.

    The child protection training is legally mandated for many health/care professionals. Any such professionals who are beneficiaries of this training and are sware of the policy/practice of WTBTS will become conscious of the huge shortcomings in WT practice and process. Their stance is very distant from any paradigm which could be considered Christian. That's why I opined that love is sinking in the organisation. Legalism is dominant.

  • Truthexplorer
    My theory regarding elders are that there are 2 types of elders- the born in's - most of whom believe every word coming from 'WT' to be the correct way of dealing with matters ie Jehovah's way in accordance with WT interpretation of scripture and have been brainwashed from knee high to a grass hopper to be loyal company men. There are however some awakened ones amongst this type who for similar reasons to the OP can't conscientiously serve as elders. The other type of elder are the ones who became JW's who have experienced life before being held captive to the WT. Many of these ones will have been experiencing doubts and more inclined to question WT policy, though some of these too will be company men through and through. It's a bit of a mixed bag, but think that most born in's who are elders are more likely to feel most comfortable in their role as elders by pushing 'doubts and critical thinking' to the back of their mind and simply get on with it!
  • Truthexplorer
    NK.......I agree with you entirely regarding WT's policies, particularly concerning child protection. It used to turn my stomach at the thought that I was being pressured to become an elder knowing ttatt. The very thought of enforcing WT policies turned me off ever becoming an elder. As someone who has had extensive training in social care work and know first hand how damaging abuse can be to an individuals, I feel incredibly sorry for all those who have been damaged further as a result of how cases were handled by untrained elders, the fault for which lies squarely with the men at the top of the 'Tower' the GB. My heart goes out to the woman who gave her experience at the ARC hearing who having received no justice by her religious organisation had no other alternative but to disassociate herself from that organisation. As a result of this she is further isolated from her relatives and friends. Her social network wiped away by the men at the top of the tower. What damage that must have done to that poor woman and thousands of others affected similarly, I can only imagine. For sure NK, I completely understand why you never again be an elder.

Share this