Thursday, August 29, 2019

Child Abuse and the New Training Module

The new training for leadership of youth isn't great, but it's not terrible. A few thoughts I had while taking it:

This is really good:
"Coercion can occur when a leader compels a child using religious language or authority to imply a spiritual obligation or duty, permission, sanction, punishment, justification, intimidation, or threat. This is contrary to the Savior’s teaching that individuals should lead “only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41)."
However, I think we need to be more explicit about when someone invokes someone else's authority to justify what they say. Judging someone as not following the prophet because they make choices that don't align with whatever trendy program or catch phrase is most recent is abhorrent, and falls solidly under this category. 

I also find it extremely unfortunate that their first example of detecting abuse is a child with bruised arms and face. It is well meant, but it adds to the core problem of how we think about abuse. 

I've talked to many abuse victims, and so I know I'm not unique in this. When I was in the middle of my situation, I remember wishing, craving that he would actually hit me. Then I'd know I wasn't crazy. I'd have something to point to. A sign that even a stranger could identify. 

By the time there are visible bruises, the abuse has already week advanced. Many victims like Susan Powell go straight from emotional abuse to death. No bruises at all. 

We need to start teaching the earlier signs. People who aren't available to spend time with friends. Personality changes. A debilitating fear of mistakes. Overapologizing. An extremely easy startle reflex. A loved one making public disparaging remarks disguised as jokes. There are lists out there. 

There is no such thing as physical abuse without emotional abuse. Emotional abuse IS abuse. Without that, no one would permit the physical side. 

Also, we need to stop using Matthew 18:6 when talking about child abuse. It is cherry picked and inaccurately interpreted. Read the whole passage. It is talking about persecution of disciples, not child abuse. 

There are plenty of valid passages in scripture to teach this principle. We shouldn't make ones up. 

Finally, absolutely stop telling people who are victimized to pray to Heavenly Father for strength. That is like telling someone who is drowning to pray for a rope. No. No. And no. We should be telling people who suspect someone is abused to be praying for guidance on how to help them. 

God sent you. Do something yourself. 

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