April 2018 Newsletter

Topic of the Month
National Child Abuse Prevention Month

In light of this month being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I want to address an issue that has been bothering me very deeply over the recent months. Child Abuse.  We all know it’s happening all around us, but do we really understand how bad it is? Do we do anything to help? Do we even know how to help?

Statistics:

A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. The United States has the worse records among industrialized nations-losing on average between 4 and 7 children daily to child abuse and neglect. Every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children (a referral can include multiple children). These are just the cases we know about.

Let’s start by focusing on an area of child abuse that hits close to home for any survivor of a high-control group. What I want to raise awareness on is Religious Child Abuse; something that many are afraid to publically dig into. Rita Swan broaches the topic in her 2015 article Child Abuse Under the Guise of Religion which was published in the NY Times on March 11th, 2015. She says,

Every kind of child abuse has been rationalized by someone as a religious practice: beatings, dangerous diets, forced marriages, slavery, exorcism, sexual exploitation, genital mutilation, conversion therapy for L.G.B.T. youth and medical neglect.”

She goes on to discuss that normal parents do not have a constitutional right to abuse their children, however under the guise of religion, child abuse is not only rampant in our country, those who are inflicting it are not charged or investigated. Take for example, an Idaho group that goes by the name of The Followers of Christ. Medical neglect alone is responsible for the deaths of many children.


Many Idaho children have suffered and died without medical care because of the Followers of Christ beliefs. Arrian Granden, 15, died in 2012 after days of nausea and vomiting so much that her esophagus ruptured. Micah Eells, 4 days old, died in 2013 of a bowel obstruction, which usually causes excruciating pain and vomiting. Pamela Eells, 16, died in 2011, of pneumonia, drowning slowly as her lungs filled with fluid. Cooper Shippy died in 2010 of untreated diabetes shortly before his second birthday.”

The reason religions in our country have so much freedom is because America was founded on the idea that citizens should have the right to religious free. As stated in the first amendment to the constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The issue here is that since the constitution was written, issues have arisen in religious organizations here in the United States and nothing has been done to prevent it from happening again or the courts have ruled in favor of the religious group rather than protecting the abused.

For example, on April 20, 2015, the California Appellate Court, in another Jehovah’s Witnesses-related case, found that “the church has no duty to prevent its members from harming each other” (Conti v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc.). This judgment reversed an award of $8 million in punitive damages. The plaintiff had sued her abuser (her stepfather) and the Watchtower Society, claiming that she had been repeatedly molested during church-sponsored activities over a two-year period. He admitted his molestations to his elders, who neither notified the police nor warned the congregation. This privileging of penitential confessions essentially goes along with California courts’ consistent rulings in this regard. And the pattern repeats itself in other states.”

Now that we understand how big of an issue this is, what do we do about it?

First of all, I believe that the statute of limitations for children who suffer child abuse needs to be addressed. Many times, the child suffers from amnesia regarding these incidences and only through many years of therapy once they reach adulthood and can escape the high-control group are these memories uncovered and traumatically processed. At this point, the statute of limitations has long been reached and passed. So how do they get closure for the horrible things that happened to them?

I firmly believe that there should be an exception made regarding the statue of limitations for children who suffered child abuse. Whether it is extended to 2 years from the time they reach 18 years old or 2 years from the time they first uncover the memories in therapy; something needs to change.

 

Sources Cited:

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/03/10/parents-beliefs-vs-their-childrens-health/child-abuse-under-the-guise-of-religion

http://cultresearch.org/perspectives-on-cult-related-court-cases/

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