The comments underneath the article are almost as interesting as the article.
CSA and the UK Catholic Church.
“The Jehovah’s Witnesses, also mentioned by the Inquiry, have now a policy under which their elders are instructed to report to the police credible instances of sexual abuse even if reporting is not mandatory under local laws (while they may still rely on the confessional privilege, where such privilege was protected by the laws, when sued for old cases that happened before the new policy was instituted).”
Are they right on this? As far as I know elders will only report when there is a legal requirement to do so…Although I believe there may an allowance to report if a child is considered to be in further danger …
Anyway , any comparison between a JW confession and a Catholic one is false . It is nothing like that.
Doesn`t common sense tell you to report child sexual abuse to the appropriate authorities regardless whether it was a mandatory requirement or not ?
Oh I forgot, common sense and being a JW doesn`t compute !
I should know I was a JW for 32 years .
5. When elders learn of an accusation of child abuse, they immediately consult with the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses to ensure compliance with child abuse reporting laws. (Romans 13:1) Even if the elders have no legal duty to report an accusation to the authorities, the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses will instruct the elders to report the matter if a minor is still in danger of abuse or there is some other valid reason.
That’s a good statement Earnest, but I guess there might still be worry around the phrase “if a minor is still in danger”, because how are the elders to determine if a child is still in danger?
Even if the child concerning whom the allegation has been made is completely safe from further abuse, and the elders are absolutely sure about that (for example, if the victim is now an adult), then how can the elders be sure that no other child is currently in danger from the same individual?
Arguably any allegation of any abuse by any person necessarily means that the abuser, if not caught, is a potential danger to other children if not reported. If that is so, then it is not appropriate to limit reporting to instances where the elders judge that “a minor is still in danger”, not only because elders are not qualified to make that determination in many instances, but also because there is always such danger if an abuser is not reported.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse reported last month that
F.85 In the delicate balance between the need to provide an individual child with confidential advice and support (whether medical, psychological, legal or social) and ensuring child sexual abuse is prevented, it is essential to recognise that there are some circumstances where privacy ought to be protected and some where prevention is paramount.
I do not doubt that elders and the Legal Dept would find it easier if reporting was mandatory. However, as the IICSA found, there are some circumstances when that is not in the best interests of the child.In July 2016 the UK government launched a public consultation on reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect. It concluded in March 2018 that the case for mandatory reporting had "not currently been made" and did not introduce it then. The report concludes (para.54):
What would be considered to be appropriate action under the duty to act would therefore depend on the particular circumstances of each case.
while they may still rely on the confessional privilege, where such privilege was protected by the laws, when sued for old cases that happened before the new policy was instituted).”
Bit off topic but relevent...
I was thinking about this listening to someone's story the other day.
I don't believe this has ever been raised on the subject of witness elders having clergy privilege, which I don't believe they have for the following reason. Married women don't have the automatic right to a "confessional" with only themselves as penitent and their elder/s. Elders *and* husband's can over rule that 'right' and insist the husband accompanies the married female penitent. The reverse is not true for husband's.
I'm aware the courts and government institutions have taken into account the fact there are multiple elders involved, including ones at Bethel not present to hear the 'confession'. But I'm not aware they have considered this anomaly with married, female JWs.
I believe this would definitely put the witness set up our of the reasonable realm of penitent and clergy.
Earnest, although reporting is not mandatory by law, there nothing stopping JWs deciding on their own to report all cases as a matter of policy, is there? The fact that they are willing to comply with mandatory reporting when it is the law shows they don’t believe it breaks any scriptural principle. So couldn’t they decide to make it their own policy?
The idea of a someone at the branch (with what training?) making the decision on whether to report on the basis of a phone call from local elders doesn’t seem ideal does it?
slimboyfat, the policy is to "instruct the elders to report the matter if a minor is still in danger of abuse or there is some other valid reason".
My point in my previous post was that both the 2022 Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and the 2018 Government report recognised that appropriate action depends on the circumstances. If the circumstances are that a minor is in danger of abuse or there is some other reason it is necessary to report, then the elders are instructed to do so.
If the parents and victim have chosen not to report it, and the minor is not in danger of abuse, and there is no valid reason to report it, then there are likely to be circumstances where it is inadvisable to do so.
"Some other valid reason..."
How about bringing the perpetrator to justice?