The following are some notes from my recent Level III Child Safeguarding Training. I have tabulated the notes and then expressed my thoughts about the training and the paradigm of the WTBTS / Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.....
STEPS TO TAKE when one learns of / receives a complaint of child abuse.
UK Level III Child Safeguarding Training (excerpt).
Adults looking after children or young people should be aware of the risks of abuse (by adults or other young people), and take steps to reduce those risks.
Staff or volunteers in charge of children or young people should know what to do if they suspect that someone is being physically or sexually abused, or if someone tells them that this is happening.
The following key points give
a guide on what to do and what not to do…..
· Never think abuse is impossible in your organisation or group, or that an accusation against someone you know well and trust is bound to be wrong.
· Children and young people often te3ll other young people, rather than staff or adults, about abuse – make sure that your senior young people know the poits on this sheet as well as the responsible adults.
Stop, Listen & Believe
Always stop and listen straight away to someone who wants to tell you about incidents or suspicions of abuse.
Write Brief Notes
If you can, write brief notes of what they are telling you while they are speaking (these may help later if you have to remember exactly what was said) and keep your original notes, howver rough and even if you wrote on the back of something else (it’s what you wrote at the time that may be important later – not a tidier and improved version you wrote up afterwards!). If you don’t have the means to write at the time, make notes of what was said or observed as soon as possible afterwards.
Never Make Promises
Never make a promise that you will keep what is said confidential or secret – if you are told about abuse you have a responsibility to tell the right people to get something done about it. If asked, explain that if you are going to be told something very important that needs to be sorted out, you will need to tell the people who can sort it out, but that you will only tell the people who absolutely have to know.
No Leading Questions
Do not ask leading questions that might give your own ideas of what might have happened (e.g. “did he do X to you?”) – just ask “what do you want to tell me?” or “is there anything else you want to say?”
· Immediately report the abuse to a line manager
· Follow the correct workplace procedures for reporting abuse
Discuss with the person in charge whether any steps need to be taken to protect the person who has told you about the abuse (this may need to be discussed with the person who told you).
Do not carry out investigations
Never attempt to carry out an investigation of suspected or alleged abuse by interviewing people etc, - social services and police staff are the people trained to do this – you could cause more damage and spoil possible criminal proceedings. It is your duty to refer concerns on, not investigate.
· As soon as possible (and certainly the same day) the person in charge should refer the matter to the local social services department (helped by your notes).
· Follow their requests about what to do next.
· They will set up any necessary investigations and can advise you – that is their statutory job.
The training emphasises sharing with appropriate expertise to enable protection of the victim. The WT practice is to retain in house where expertise is minimal and the victim is thus not protected. Children deserve expertise. Parents are reassured at the availability of expertise. WT BoE have a paucity of expertise as the WT society’s philosophy is one which is inimical to higher education.
The guidance tabulated above is not rocket science. It is simple and straightforward. Yet there is a chasm between this guidance and the practice within the paradigm of the WT. That the WT society isolates itself from the “superior authorities” is quite telling, especially where vulnerable children and adolescents are concerned.
Part of the concept of love is that of protection. The above tabulated advice is protective of a victim. The WT paradigm is protective of itself and is demonstrably loveless towards victims. Indeed, the mal-experience of the victim is likely to be compounded by the practices of the WT society. The WT society uses the illustration of a shepherd rather generously. Yet by its actions, it demonstrates that it is a pseudo-shepherd in that a victim of child abuse is seen as adversarial, and thus an object to be scape-goated and marginalised.
If you are a JW and a ministerial servant or elder, and also a nurse, a doctor, a social worker, or other health / care professional, you could well be putting your professional status at risk by following the guidance of the WT society exclusively as you are required by them to do as its guidance is protective of the institution and not the victim. As a health / social care professional, you are required to protect the victim.
If you are a health professional JW but not a ministerial servant or elder, surely as a parent, you would prefer the above guidance founded on empirical expertise to be followed, rather than the WT society’s pseudo-guidance to be followed, which is focussed on containment within the organisation.
If you are a British JW, remember that quite recently, the WT Society of Britain sent its officers to Eire regarding several elders whose conscience directed them to disclose a case of abuse to the Garda (Irish Police). The outcome was that several of those elders were deleted as they were found by the WT society of Britain not to be of sound mind! But as a parent, wouldn’t you have found the elders’ approaching the Garda to be reassuring? This example of mal-conduct on the part of the WTBTS of Britain (aka Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses / aka IBSA – International Bible Students’ Association) evidences an especially bad record of protecting individuals who are victims of child abuse. This is a society which superficially extolls “lowliness of mind” and “reasonableness” and yet in practice puts itself (the institution) first, and is unreasonable in its aggressively litigious paradigm of having tried to obstruct the Charity Commission and deleting the small number of elders who decided to follow their consciences.
If you are a JW ministerial servant or elder, I hope you realise one day soon, that your Britain Branch isn’t providing you with the child safeguarding training you need. Their omission of training is wanton. That you acquiesce with their paradigm of protecting the org above the child can get you into trouble. The best thing you can do is to resign as an elder or ministerial servant. If you can’t do that then at least quit as a charitable trustee if you are an elder. If you can’t resign as an elder nor quit as a charitable trustee, then at least search around for third party liability insurance to cover yourself for following the woeful advice of the WTBTS of Britain.
Just look at what’s happened to the charity in the UK which sought to conceal that some of its employees abused children in Haiti and elsewhere. Their receipt of donations is significantly down such that they are having to shed employees, sell property, and curtail their charitable activity. The difference which sticks out in my mind is that they have acknowledged the problem, apologised, and are putting procedures in place which will mitigate the risk of the situation being repeated. There is no such reflection on the part of the WTBTS of Britain. It remains, cold, conceited, controlling and cagey.
You might think I’m exaggerating by labelling the WTBTS of Britain as “cagey”. However, I remember a time in the UK when direction went out to all the congregation BoE to have “a capable brother” nominated to deal with the press and media. The Britain Branch of the WTBTS also had a press and media individual to portray the organisation. I think it was Paul Gillies – an individual rich in his knowledge, experience, and application of WT protocols. He appeared on British TV only once or twice. The countenance of the TV interviewer conveyed incredulity at his coldness. That neither he nor others are available for interview / scrutiny in more recent times is demonstrative of their failure to meet their own objective of positively portraying the org; is demonstrative of their incompetence as communicators, and reflects their modern day decision to opt for a paradigm of being comprehensively taciturn (cagey).
I am so pleased that their contributions are diminishing; so pleased that their numbers are shrinking. From the influences of the WT society in the UK and elsewhere, may “angels and ministers of grace defend us” as Hamlet said!