Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard"

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university
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Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard"

Post by university » 01 Feb 2016, 12:52

The Church released an essay entitled, "Effectiveness of Church Approach to Preventing Child Abuse."

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/e ... hild-abuse

Just when I thought it couldn't get worse.

To me, it feels like the Church is on a defensive kick right now. This one is upsetting to me. It would be one thing to be defending the Church against allegations that it doesn't do enough to prevent abuse. It's another to go out there and claim they are the world's "gold standard" for how Churches deal with abuse.

Some highlights:
The Church has long had a highly effective approach for preventing and responding to abuse. In fact, no religious organization has done more. Although no one system is perfect and no single program will work with every organization, the Church’s approach is the gold standard.
While clergy-abuse cases continue to grab headlines, the Church has had almost no child abuse problems with its clergy.
The Church fully supports compliance with child abuse reporting laws and regularly encourages members to report. The suggestion that the Church instructs members to keep abuse issues solely within the Church is false.
The Church is one of the only religious organizations that actively disfellowships or excommunicates ordinary members for child abuse.
One final point: The Church has not taken these measures to protect its reputation but to protect children.
I'm not saying the Church is horrible and enables all forms of child abuse. There are some protections there--in theory. I know of too, too many situations which contradict the grand narrative this essay is trying to sell.

This is a touchy subject for me and has been for awhile. I've watched conference before, counting the times they referenced the evils of abuse vs. immodesty and same-sex relationships (whether said directly and implied). I bet you can guess which ones pop up more.

P.S. Is it just me or does this feel like it was written by a college freshman who's just learning how to write a persuasive/defensive paper? Seriously. The "The Church has not taken these measures to protect its reputation" is awful writing. Eek. :wtf: That's like lesson 101. That's like writing, "I am not a crook."

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DarkJedi
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Re: Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard

Post by DarkJedi » 01 Feb 2016, 13:34

Yeah, I have some issues with it too. The first being why and why now?

I don't like how much emphasis is put on just talking about it:
For decades, the Church has repeatedly, publicly and unequivocally denounced child abuse as an “insidious evil” and a “sin of the darkest hue.” Church leaders at the highest level began making such statements and aggressively addressing the issue even before clergy-abuse cases raised public awareness in the mid-1980s. Since 1976, more than 50 articles have appeared in Church publications condemning child abuse or educating members about it. As wrenching as the topic is, Church leaders have given sermons about it more than 30 times at the Church’s worldwide conferences.]
Talking about it does little to prevent or treat it IMO.

I also take issue with this:
Preventing and responding to child abuse is the subject of a regular lesson taught during Sunday meetings.
I can't say I ever recall a lesson or talk in Sunday meetings on the subject in any ward I have lived (note that I have lived in the same ward for over 25 years and was inactive 10).

and...
While clergy-abuse cases continue to grab headlines, the Church has had almost no child abuse problems with its clergy.
-that we know about. I am aware of at least one case in our area several years ago that was covered up, and I have seen stories on the forums where abuse has not been dealt with. I do agree that if it is dealt with it's usually dealt with harshly and I'm good with that.

While I believe almost all bishops are good men, the following statement bothers me in it's naiveté:
LDS clergy also have powerful incentives to protect children from abusers within their congregations. All bishops are married and most have children of their own, often young ones, who attend their respective congregations and participate in their activities. Bishops are therefore personally invested in the safety and well-being of their Church community. When a child abuser threatens the safety of his congregation, a bishop has no incentive, financial or otherwise, to do other than protect his Church family as he does his own.
I think abusers are often married and have children of their own - it's often the father or mother (or step parent) doing the abusing because that's how they have access to the kid. We have two former members of our ward in federal prison now for abuse (both were porn, one was pictures of him actually abusing his young child) both married, active, and abusing their own children. Neither were ward leaders, however, and I will give credit for the two paragraphs following the above quote.

I think the end of the piece is better than the beginning except for the excuse at the end.

Can I say any other church or organization does better? No. But along that same line I can't say the church does better than anyone else, either. As a side note, I don't like that the church is attempting to toot it's own horn here.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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university
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Re: Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard

Post by university » 01 Feb 2016, 13:48

DarkJedi wrote:Yeah, I have some issues with it too. The first being why and why now?
One can only guess. Utah ranks highest in the United States for child sex abuse. And 8th for overall child abuse. It could be the reaction to people saying "You excommunicate loving, same-sex parents but don't do enough to excommunicate your child abusers!" It could be that the Church is very defensive right now in general. I don't know.
Last edited by university on 01 Feb 2016, 14:17, edited 1 time in total.

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Meh Mormon
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Re: Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard

Post by Meh Mormon » 01 Feb 2016, 14:01

LDS clergy also have powerful incentives to protect children from abusers within their congregations. All bishops are married and most have children of their own, often young ones, who attend their respective congregations and participate in their activities. Bishops are therefore personally invested in the safety and well-being of their Church community. When a child abuser threatens the safety of his congregation, a bishop has no incentive, financial or otherwise, to do other than protect his Church family as he does his own.
I have a problem with this statement. My brother was abused (along with other boys) by a member who was in the Bishopric (I think). He was the Secretary and was a teacher by profession. This man (if you can call him that) offered to "tutor" these boys privately in his own home. He was married and had 5 kids. This all took place in his basement while his wife and kids were home. My parents and the other parents brought this to the attention of the Bishopric and nothing was done. Finally, during a Stake Conference, they all raised their hands in opposition. It wasn't until this person was tried and convicted that he was released from his calling. It wasn't until his 2nd conviction that he was ex'd and his wife divorced him. So to say that they are there to protect the children is technically correct, but the system fails miserably when put into action.

Joni
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Re: Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard

Post by Joni » 01 Feb 2016, 14:30

What is the purpose of this statement? Is it simply to brag about how much better the Church is than the (totally not great and abominable) other churches of the world?

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The Catholic Church was able to cover up abuses for decades. It also made a much bigger story when the cover was blown, because the Catholic church is HUGE. Stories of LDS bishops molesting children don't necessarily make headlines, because we are already kind of seen as a weird little niche religion.

How can we be "the gold standard" when our church refuses to perform background checks on volunteers?

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LookingHard
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Re: Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard

Post by LookingHard » 01 Feb 2016, 14:44

I don't quite get why they decided to put this out. That leaves me scratching my head. Are they just trying to drive a wedge and say, "You must be 100% for us and not admit faults within the church or you are of the devil!"? Who does this help. Was it a reaction to the "the policy change is increasing GLBTQ+ suicides" so they wanted to put the spotlight elsewhere? Did they once again not realize what the possible outcome could be?

I can say that having dealt with both the church and BSA (Boy Scouts of America), that the BSA has been WAY ahead of the church in this area for probably decades and has REQUIRED training every 2 years for all adults (includes how to look for signs of abuse from adults and kids, and your legal responsibility in the US that you have if you even have suspicion) and does not allow ANY 1x1 time with any youth period or you are breaking the rules and should be reported as such.' The church does no background checks (several other churches do - and they have found convicted child molesters more than once in my neighborhood churches) and the church allows 1x1 interviews with youth of both sexes. If I were to be put back in as a bishop's counselor I would state that I will not do any interviews with young women 1x1. That needs to stop - even if just for the appearance and awkwardness (creepy) that it puts the girls under. Have the YW pres or RS Pres do those interviews. I think in handbook 1 it says that depending on your location you might have legal reporting requirements.

I actually feel for bishops, which I suspect there are VERY VERY few are pervs - and may not even realize some of the risks for children and how some abusers work. This and so many other areas the church should have a training course for bishops (like they have time for that!).

I am aware a couple of sexual abuse of a minor on a younger minor in our ward back a few years ago. The leader did not handle it well and he is a great warm-hearted guy that I would trust with one of my kids. The situation was just way over his head. I was surprised that the family of the abused was able to stay in the church. The two that were abused left the church as soon as they were out of the house.

The bloggernacle is already lit up by those that still have emotional woulds. Some of these folks have been public about their past and they attract more individuals that tell them their stories. I am sure for them, it hurts even more to know they are not alone.

Still scratching my head on why they released this. I am not sure if it will blow up, but they are playing with fire here and it could turn out to burn them in the end.

Joni
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Re: Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard

Post by Joni » 01 Feb 2016, 14:53

Very, very good point about the "two deep" rule not applying to bishop's interviews - when an adult man is meeting behind closed (non-windowed) doors and inquiring a teenage girl about her sexual purity, that should send off HUGE WARNING BELLS.

My oldest daughter is 13 so she has met with the bishop a few times already - once when she turned 12 and once to get her first TR. Both times, I was in the room. Both times, I could tell that the bishop/counselor didn't really want me there but neither of them actually asked me to leave. (I think I scare them.) I do this at the discretion of my daughter. I always ask her if she wants me there, and if the answer is no, I will happily wait in the hall. I don't say anything during the interview, either.

My youngest is coming up on her 8th birthday. Unless she doesn't want me to, I plan on attending the interview. This news release (though I'm still skeptical of PR's intentions) would appear to strengthen my position. I believe the only one who has the right to waive the two-deep policy is the CHILD in question.

ETA: This is a very poorly written news release. It almost reads like a parody.

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Re: Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard

Post by Roy » 01 Feb 2016, 15:24

After many years, perpetrators who truly change their lives can be readmitted to Church membership, but their membership record is permanently marked with an annotation that precludes them from ever again associating with the Church’s children or youth.
Is this the same annotation that Benji Schwimmer talked about for his disfellowshipment due to acting on homosexual feelings? viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3628&p=46607&hilit=benji#p46607
The Church’s policies and practices have evolved over the years. The help line, for example, has been highly successful since its creation over 15 years ago. The Church continues to look for ways to refine and improve its approach to abuse. To be sure, tragic situations have arisen. The Church’s response is always to help victims of abuse.


Cool, I imagine that the help line has been VERY helpful in preventing local bishops from making these types of decisions by the seat of their pants. Good idea!
At times the Church has to defend itself in court against spurious allegations and overreaching demands, most arising from situations that allegedly occurred decades ago.


This sentence reminds me of JS being brought in on "trumped up charges." Is there ever a case brought against the church that might have occurred before the help line was instituted when the bishop made a very bad decision? If the church was so great at preventing child abuse before the help line began, then why the need for the help line?
One final point: The Church has not taken these measures to protect its reputation but to protect children.
Really? I find it interesting that it seems like the church has an aversion to owning up to normal corporate motivations for things. The new SSA policy was created "to protect children". The ward janitors were eliminated "to give the members service opportunities and pride in their ward buildings". If we go back to the time when the help line was instituted then we see that the church was being forced to settle some very expensive lawsuits as this 1995 Deseret News article helps to demonstrate: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/4218 ... tml?pg=all
This statement does not even allow the desire of the church to protect it's reputation as a minor or secondary considerations. It is unequivocal that no church leaders were thinking about the churches interests when these policies came about.

I agree that the church is doing pretty great at preventing child abuse. I just don't think that this press release is having a direct or honest discussion on the subject. Sometimes, mistakes were made by local church leaders with disastrous and tragic consequences. We have learned from those issues and implemented safeguards that will hopefully prevent most of these issues from re-occurring.

Just say it and move on. Don't pretend that the church has always been some sort of guardian of children. Why the rose colored, Pollyanna, puff piece?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Joni
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Re: Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard

Post by Joni » 01 Feb 2016, 15:36

How painful it must be for LDS victims of abuse to have their claims labeled 'spurious.'

I'm aware that bishops have an abuse hotline (I think Primary leadership should have access to it too) but I must admit, this is one of those things where I don't understand why we go to the bishop first. If I thought a Church member was harming my child, why wouldn't I go to the police and seek out a professionally trained counselor? I'm sure I'd tell the bishop eventually, but I guess I don't see why I would need to go to him as a first line of defense.

Roy
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Re: Church on Abuse: "Church’s approach is the gold standard

Post by Roy » 01 Feb 2016, 15:58

Joni wrote:I'm aware that bishops have an abuse hotline (I think Primary leadership should have access to it too) but I must admit, this is one of those things where I don't understand why we go to the bishop first. If I thought a Church member was harming my child, why wouldn't I go to the police and seek out a professionally trained counselor? I'm sure I'd tell the bishop eventually, but I guess I don't see why I would need to go to him as a first line of defense.
I remember reading something about how some members just can't help repeating negative gossip to everyone. The advice given was that if you knew something negative about the worthiness of an individual then you should tell the Bishop and then let it drop. It is then between the bishop and the individual(s) and isn't your business beyond that. Perhaps this counsel was never intended to be applied towards child abuse but culture is hard to change.

Almost a decade ago there was a rumor that there was an inappropriate relationship going on between the YW leader and on of the YW. Remembering this counsel, I told the bishop of the rumor and that I had seen them in long talks in the church foyer on Wednesday nights but nothing more. I thought that I was performing my duty. Later when the YM went off to college and the former YW president left her husband to go marry this YM, several friends that had known about the rumors and suspicions praised me for having gone to the bishop. Now I wonder if I should have done more...
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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