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Also See: http://www.watchtower.org/e/200710/article_01.htm
Additional Reading: http://www.watchtower.org/e/19850122/article_01.htm
For Immediate Release
April 2, 1999
Problem of child abuse highlighted by educational work of Jehovah’s Witnesses
NEW YORK—This month, as part of their ongoing educational program, Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States will be distributing a series of articles on the subject of children in crisis. The April 8, 1999, issue of the international newsmagazine Awake! will feature a discussion on the worldwide problem of abuse and exploitation of children.
The elimination of child abuse is a formidable task, according to many individuals who work in the field of childcare. They look at the grim statistics that point to the alarming increases in the number of cases of sexual, physical and mental abuse against children. The devastating effect of such abuse on society and the effort that is needed to stop the exploitation of children are well noted by the United Nations Children’s Fund. In its report, The State of the World’s Children—1995, the concern is expressed that “unless the investment in children is made, all of humanity’s most fundamental long-term problems will remain fundamental long-term problems.”
“For many decades, Jehovah’s Witnesses have made available information that impacts the lives of people in their communities,” said James N. Pellechia, director of Office of Public Information for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Articles such as these on children not only educate our neighbors but help us see what we need to do as parents to make sure that our children are provided with a stable home environment. We do this work because we care.”
The magazine will be available in more than 80 languages, and a special effort will be made to distribute the articles to groups and organizations that work with issues involving children.
Report: July 14, 2002
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Protection in Britain
Paul Gillies, spokesman for the Britain branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses comments: “Sexual abuse of children is not just a terrible sin but also a crime that can leave lasting emotional scars on its victims. Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere abhor the sexual abuse of children and will not protect any perpetrator of such repugnant acts from the consequences of his gross sin. This is in harmony with the principle recorded at Romans 12:9.”
Recognizing that religion is in the spotlight for its handling of matters relating to this complex issue, Jehovah’s Witnesses have made sure the public has access to detailed information regarding their means of responding to these matters when they may arise within a congregation. Mr. Gillies explains, “It is of deep concern to us if there is a victim of abuse who says his or her case has not been handled with sensitivity or understanding in our religion.”
And Mr. Gillies continues, “Elders in Britain are directed to ensure that secular laws are adhered to. When a report is received, elders contact our National Office in London for guidance to ensure that (1) the alleged victim, and other potential victims, are protected from possible abuse and (2) that counsel is given to report crime to the proper authorities and to comply with any additional legal requirements. Jehovah’s Witnesses further believe that it is the absolute right of the victim, his or her family, or any others to report the matter to the authorities if they so choose. There are certainly no sanctions against any congregation member who reports an allegation of child abuse to the authorities.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Protection
Child abuse is abhorrent to us. This is in harmony with the principle recorded at Romans 12:9. Even one abused child is one too many. For decades The Watchtower and Awake! have featured articles to educate both Witnesses and the public regarding the importance and the need to protect children from child abuse. Among others, there was the article “Let Us Abhor What Is Wicked!” published in the January 1, 1997, issue of The Watchtower; “Help for the Victims of Incest” in the October 1, 1983, Watchtower, “Your Child Is in Danger!”, “How Can We Protect Our Children?”, and “Prevention in the Home”, all in the October 8, 1993, Awake!, as well as “Child Molesting—Every Mother’s Nightmare,” in the January 22, 1985, Awake!
When any one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is accused of an act of child abuse, the local congregation elders are expected to investigate. Two elders meet separately with the accused and the accuser to see what each says on the matter. If the accused denies the charge, the two elders may arrange for him and the victim to restate their position in each other’s presence, with elders also there. If during that meeting the accused still denies the charges and there are no others who can substantiate them, the elders cannot take action within the congregation at that time. Why not? As a Bible-based organization, we must adhere to what the Scriptures say, namely, “No single witness should rise up against a man respecting any error or any sin . . . At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses the matter should stand good.” (Deuteronomy 19:15) Jesus reaffirmed this principle as recorded at Matthew 18:15-17. However, if two persons are witnesses to separate incidents of the same kind of wrongdoing, their testimony may be deemed sufficient to take action.
However, even if the elders cannot take congregational action, they are expected to report the allegation to the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in their country, if local privacy laws permit. In addition to making a report to the branch office, the elders may be required by law to report even uncorroborated or unsubstantiated allegations to the authorities. If so, the elders receive proper legal direction to ensure that they comply with the law. Additionally, the victim may wish to report the matter to the authorities, and it is his or her absolute right to do so.
If, when confronted, the accused confesses that he is guilty of child abuse, the elders take appropriate congregational action. If he is not repentant, he will not be permitted to remain a member of the congregation. Even if he is repentant—is cut to the heart and is thus resolutely determined to avoid such conduct in the future—what was stated in the January 1, 1997, issue of The Watchtower applies. The article said: “For the protection of our children, a man known to have been a child molester does not qualify for a responsible position in the congregation. Moreover, he cannot be a pioneer [full-time missionary of Jehovah’s Witnesses] or serve in any other special, full-time service.” He would not qualify Scripturally. (1 Timothy 3:2, 7-10) We take such action because we are concerned with maintaining Bible standards and protecting our children. Everyone in our organization is expected to meet the same requirements, namely, to be clean physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually.—2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:17-19; 1 Thessalonians 2:4.
In a few instances, individuals guilty of an act of child abuse have been appointed to positions within the congregation if their conduct has been otherwise exemplary for decades. All the factors are considered carefully. Suppose, for example, that a long time ago an 18-year-old male had sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl who was a willing participant. Depending upon the U.S. jurisdiction where he lived when this happened, elders may have been required to report this as an incident of child abuse. Let us say that 20 years have passed. He has been living an exemplary life and he is respected. In such a case, the man could possibly be appointed to a responsible position within the congregation.
Our procedures have been refined over time. Over the years, as we have noted areas where our policies could be strengthened, we have followed through. We are continuing to refine them. We do not believe that our system is perfect. No human organization is perfect. But we do believe that we have a strong, Bible-based policy on child abuse. Anyone in a responsible position who is guilty of child abuse would be removed from his responsibilities without hesitation. We certainly would not knowingly allow him to serve elsewhere, either because he moved or through a transfer. Further, we regularly review our procedures to ensure that they are in compliance with the law.—Romans 13:1
The Bible teaches that individuals can repent of their sins and “turn to God by doing works that befit repentance,” and we accept what the Bible says. (Acts 26:20) Still, the safety of our children is of the utmost importance. We take it very seriously.
For Immediate Release
May 14, 2003
“Protect Your Children” gets international recognition
Tonight the public service announcement “Protect Your Children” received international recognition at the World Media Festival in Hamburg, Germany, where it was given the Gold Award for its overall excellence. Additionally, a second public service announcement entitled Teach Your Children received a Silver Award.
These 30- and 60-second public service announcements are part of an ongoing effort by Jehovah’s Witnesses to bring attention to Bible principles that can help people deal with some of the most complex social issues of our time. These and similar announcements have been broadcast over 17,000 times on approximately 200 stations in the United States. In addition, a few international media outlets have already played the messages as well.
The World Media Festival is a global competition with participants from more than 20 countries representing some of the most respected organizations in the world such as ABC, CBS News, Microsoft, Orion, Universal Studios, Volkswagen, and BMW.
Videos can be seen at: http://www.jw-media.org/aboutjw/jwb03e.htm
Also see: http://www.jw-media.org/aboutjw/jwb02e.htm