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Untitled Document
An elder writes
How would you respond to this elders comments on a public forum about abuse? We will put up your comments
Anon of 11/01/2005 16:12 referred to a Panorama program about Child Abuse and how Jehovah's Witnesses handle it in the congregations. The truth is it is handled very well in the most difficult and awful circumstances in my experience. Our policy is if a person is found to be a child abuser then they can never become a Elder in a congregation and if they move to another congregation the Elders in that congregation are informed of the case. I have been an Elder of Jehovah's Witnesses for over 20 years and in the several congregations I have been associated with have (very unfortunately) occasionally come across child abuse, the standing instructions we have to deal with this is very clear, the relatives of the child who are not abusers are encouraged to refer to the authorities, and if they wont elders are obliged if the see the child is in danger to do so. The difficult issue arises when a single allegation occurs and it is denied and relatives don't feel they should act. In each case where I have been involved, 4 in total, one person was directly reported to the police the day after it came to light and that person got a prison sentence and was expelled from the congregation, in two other cases social welfare were brought in and as the accusations could not be proven have fizzled out, in the 4th case the girl who brought the accusation after some time admitted that she wrongly accused the person. In all cases the best possible help was provided that humanly could be. So my experience is at odds with the accusations leveled by ex witnesses in the Panorama program.(by the way an elder is only a person who has certain scriptural qualifications and desires to perform the voluntary work associated with teaching and helping in the congregations, it is not a full time or paid office). Does this mean that these tragic situations are always handled correctly by elders, unfortunately not, sometimes individuals either don't act or act inappropriately. But I can say this with hand on heart that the direction we get is to put the child's welfare first and mark any that have demonstrated a propensity towards child abuse. It is a vile and evil practice and is NOT tolerated in the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses.

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