2017 Watchtower convention: Children must “dress modestly” to avoid sexual assault.

Anyone who types the words “Jehovah’s Witnesses” into google these days will quickly see that many of the search results relate to some form of child abuse, be it a major payout from Watchtower to an abuse survivor, a news story about fresh allegations of Watchtower coverup in this area, or the devastating findings of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse.

This growing scandal, which most recently gained fresh media attention at a cross disciplinary conference of lawyers, journalists, activists and law enforcement organised by the Reveal News organisation, is sadly coming to be the issue by which the Watchtower religion is being defined.

Thus it is no surprise to see that the 2017 Regional Convention has on its Saturday program a talk entitled “Safeguard Your Children From What Is Evil,” quite possibly in response to this growing scandal. The talk presents itself as containing advice to parents on how to protect their children from possible abuse.

Like all the other 2017 convention talks, the outline for this talk has been leaked online, and can be viewed here at the website AvoidJW.org, which hosts an extensive library of Watchtower documents, and of articles that analyse Watchtower news and teachings.

Here at JW Survey we’ve been analysing the outlines, and whilst by and large it appears that the talks will not be as controversial as the infamous 2016 convention (dubbed by this website as The Worst Convention Ever) this talk on child abuse struck us as being extremely problematic, both for what it contains and for what it does not contain.

Not asking for it

The talk begins with some basic but essentially reasonable advice for parents. It acknowledges that often an abuser will be someone the child knows and trusts, cites certain behaviours to look for that might raise red flags, and discusses possible situations in which a child may be at risk of abuse. It then encourages parents to talk to their children about sex frankly and openly, and at an age appropriate level.

 

However, then the outlines states the following (bold is mine);

“Parents ask yourselves; Have I trained my children regarding what are proper displays of affection, the importance of wearing modest clothing, and the need for others to respect their privacy.”

Essentially, this outline is advising children to “dress modestly” to avoid sexual assault. And by doing so, this talk is making a slew of unfortunate implications.

Firstly, the implication is that children who Watchtower might deem to have dressed “immodestly” may bear a degree of responsibility for their own assault, provoking their attacker with seductive attire. Such an attitude is sadly still very common when it comes to the issue of rape;

“Well, did you see what she was wearing? She was asking for it, if we’re honest.”

The simple fact is that no-one is ever asking to be sexually assaulted, no matter what they are wearing. Such an attitude amounts to victim blaming, and can make survivors who often struggle with feelings of guilt after their ordeal feel even worse. It also serves to give sexual predators a sense of justification and inadvertently lessens the culpability that should otherwise quite rightly fall on them like a ton of bricks.

Now, it is awful enough that adult survivors of sexual assault and rape can be treated this way, but to extend this victim blaming mentality to children is reprehensible. It also has the unfortunate side effect of framing children as sexual beings, who can be seductive and appealing if dressed in a certain style, which is clearly not a healthy attitude to be promoting, even inadvertently.

Glaring by omission

The serious policy failings of Watchtower uncovered by the ARC are addressed nowhere in this talk

However, this talk outline is not just reprehensible for what it contains. It is also reprehensible for what it does not contain.

  • Nowhere in this talk are parents instructed to contact the police should their child make an accusation of abuse.
  • Nowhere in this talk are elders instructed to contact the police and co-operate fully with the legal investigation should they be informed of an accusation of abuse.
  • Nowhere in this talks is the audience informed of Watchtower’s actual policies in handling accusations of child sexual abuse.
  • Nowhere in this talk are children assured that elders will assist them and report to the police on their behalf if they secretly confide to those elders that they are being abused.
  • Nowhere in this talk is an admission that elders require two eyewitnesses to an incident of child abuse to take any congregational action.
  • Nowhere in this talk is an admission that elders may be aware of sexual predators in the congregation, but may not be allowed to warn the congregants unless the Branch specifically approves this step.
  • Nowhere in this talk is an admission of the significant and systematic failings found in Watchtower’s policy during the Australian Royal Commission Case Study 29 and 54.
  • Nowhere in this talk is professional physiological help or counselling promoted as an effective recourse for abuse survivors.
  • Nowhere in this talk is an apology to any of the thousands of previous abuse survivors who have been let down by these failings.
  • Nowhere in this talk are JW abuse survivors informed of any compensation scheme available to them if they feel Watchtower has been negligent in handling their accusations of abuse.

Watchtower still doesn’t get it

Essentially, we see here a talk that, on the plus side, contains a small degree of useful information for parents in the basic matter of being aware of potential “danger signs.”

However, this talk also peddles an awful, victim blaming mentality and promotes a “modesty culture” that actually has the side effect of sexualising young children and inadvertently lessening blame on abusers.

Additionally the entire talk is focused on casting this issue firmly into the realm of the parents and family, and stays very far away from any process or responsibility that Watchtower might have once its Elders are informed of an accusation.

And lastly, not once does the talk discuss what happens after abuse has been committed, and the congregation must handle both an abuse survivor and a sexual predator. This ommission is glaring by its absence.

In short, if this talk is any indicator, Watchtower has no intention of responding to the unfolding thunderstorm of scandal in any kind of effective way. As the legal costs mount, and the Watchtower brand becomes increasingly toxic with the general public, one has to wonder how bad the damage will become before Watchtower’s Governing Body understands that its outdated approach to the issue of child abuse has no place in the 21st century.

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140 Responses to 2017 Watchtower convention: Children must “dress modestly” to avoid sexual assault.

  1. Sharon Christensen says:

    Big B…right…last heard from went golfing…kinda wondering where and why quiet. Intersting pic…”The Scream”…. Depicting how Catholic Priests, along with the RCMP…literally tore childern, Native, Aboriginal, Indigenous….away from their families…to educate them to be civilized….Took them to residential schools…where many died…most were sexually abused…many suffer to this day….life may seem better…but for a person victimized by religion and abused….very vivid in the mind despite…..ones innner child…always cries and wunders…..why????? What did I do to deserve….and then if God so good…why he let it happen to a little child….why no one protected that one….We see a person….we are quick to judge and condemn, and blame…perhaps the Native saying…Walk a mile in anothers mocassins…has a deeper meaning we should all take to heart before passing judgement with what meets the eye. As to my comments at times…there is alittle thing going on because of…we all need our lithium chked at times! ;). No worries. Allz good…I am working on my own version of…” The scream”…. as sooo many of us on here could do….Not sure if World over, but in Canada…tomorrow May 14 is…Fe^te des Me’res…not quite right, I do not have my French on but close enough to get the drift…so for those of you who have a Mum who is talking to you…wish her such…if your conscience allows such wickedness! ;). Mine still does not….Jw holdz strong!

  2. Sharon Christensen says:

    Zara…tube dress…Got me a thinking….and also…well if me streekin thru assemble as Ethel…would be a cyber bullying crime against…Jw. org… Not sure I follow that line of but…well…and looking in mirror…”Time and un forseen occurrence.”..have well…left krinkles and wrinkles…if I posed as Ethel…Jw .org would think I am as crazy as my family says…dressing as Kadi G. / Perry…with rear view mirrors and Wt written across my forehead might reinterate the…Sharons sooo crazy…what the hall…idea….So being an artist and seamstress of sorts….and falling back into a pieceful activist of idea, I purchased fabric the color of JW.org blew…..Gonna stitch meself a sorry…sari…..Watch for …Modest …yet can mk a statement…;). Hashab and all…still gonna wear Mocassins though…and ankle change…fairly big purse….and like Mr. Bean…flash my…American Express card….should let me in as I drink my Tim Hortons coffee out of paper cup…Canadian…? When I was in shelter but going to Hall…I had many young folks who would pile in my car…off we would go in service…hayday…the thrift store shopping…Burger King after… they were happy…said I was fun…But before long…..they started confiding in me…their life exp. and families secrets….The scribes and Pharisees…held their chins…proceeded to direct me into the bk rm …again! Duh…told me…I was pedophile…not to have anythng to do with younger ones…I said…oh…Ok…you pedophile to? Cuz.., all you elders leave kids out of…father less boys etc., take under wing…help in service etc….as well girls….No you walk right past them, go to your Hi places and say…Oh our young childern are leaving…..Satans world taking…I said oh…hello? A young married sister confided in me also…and we spent many a long night at Perkins rest….we drank soooo much coffee….:( ….But she told me as young child her parents helped out at the Canadian Bethel build… where she was pedophile by….when her parents latter found out about and questioned bros. in charge….the accused…disappeared…sent to???? Any diff than Catholic Church relocating priests to pedophile other and more childern? The known pedophile in the cong I was in at that time…to work his way up to mins. servant again…asked him to assist a newly converted sis…with little boy…she supported herself by running a day care…Hello? Foxy in hen hse…yeap, good idea…when she found out…She gave them what for…and oh…they dfed her promptly…immodest dress wear…too hi fashion…too many cleavers shown! Justice? Yep. The trust thing for me…not easy to say one was abused as wife, pedophiled as child….many who were can atest to…me same, but when I did tell…… the ones I told quickly told elders…relatives…they told who,knows who…they talk..They look at you and say…What did she do…..to deserve the treatment????? Did they help, or change the situation any? No…It is…if you are a weench, Twisted Sister, B…..YOU DESERVE All you got! But that is ok….cuz all negatively will mk you stronger …..I sincerely hope that many who run this site….are geniune in their desire to be of assistance to people who are searching for a listening ear and for fellow feeling and emphathy…or just to share, compare, enlighten and support etc., not just for the .”..Glory…of poking the Drago, JW.org…or Twisted Sister….”. ;). Mr. Cedars started a good thing… I feel he is a very genuine person who cares”..thanx John. They know who they are….Fun is fun…but this is people lives…grow up.

  3. A lighter tone says:

    I think it will be much worse. Check out the trailer on the May broadcast. If a pioneer leaves his or her assignment to work they can expect to die just like Lot’s wife. Truly Abhorant.

    • chantal says:

      I looked for that trailer and couldn’t find. Can you give me some more direction?

  4. Sharon Christensen says:

    Hmmm guess everyone else has a life … only me always chking Jw Survey…not sure how things on this or other sites are done …but two little imps in my life…poke something here or there, or say something…then when I comment on…they run and show my Mom…they hid behind her skirts…she chews me out for being an apostate. Go figure, oh well it gives them a reason to wake every day…and while they have Mum on their side…she will not kick their hineys out of the hse…or throw their electrical devices into the rain barrel! Bonus…I have peace and quiet today…they no dbt had to go to mtng with her. 😉 Truly sad what they are saying as to pioneers…they think of the worst possible scenario…to keep the hold on…keep the numbers there…Allz I can say…If I were alive at that time…I to would have been a salt block. :-// I can not keep quiet when ridiculous, abusive stuff goes on…Jw.org seems to be grabbing the wrench, twisting it even tighter….sooo glad I am out, and in their bad bks.

  5. Ricardo says:

    @Messenger,
    I have a question for you, Messenger. Don’t you find that Watchtower is becoming more inwardly focussed?

    In the 50’s and 60’s the organization was mainly attacking the churches and Babylon the great. It seems that lately, and especially at the last Regional Convention, that the organization has focussed more on the ones inside: the negative thinkers, the negative talkers, the ones who aren’t really witnesses (like Kevin), the ones who are finding fault with the org, the ones who are disfellowshipped, the ones who are leaving.

    As the org focusses more and more internally, there will be more crackdowns on those who have cooled off, those who have slowed down. Do you think this is so?

    If my observation is correct, then where does it lead? What happens with an ideology (like Communism, political party, etc) which becomes so inward looking it starts attacking itself? Is this part of the lifecycle of an organization that leads to its demise?

    What are your thoughts?

    • sirius says:

      >>>If my observation is correct, then where does it lead? What happens with an ideology (like Communism, political party, etc) which becomes so inward looking it starts attacking itself? Is this part of the lifecycle of an organization that leads to its demise?

      Had a chuckle! Of course, a couple thoughts come to mind of which GB/WT think they are exempt on “obsessed”(NWT, 2013) OR even “mentally diseased”(NWT, 1984).

      IMHO

      dogstar

    • messenger says:

      Ricardo it seems to me the Society has always been an organization that judges others (inside and outside) more than Christian scriptures give it authority to.

  6. Christian Freedom says:

    Hy guys, I need a little help. I can’t remember exactly, but I need reference to a letter or elders manual where they are instructed to contact the police immediately if there are break-in in the kingdom Hall. Thanks

    • HolyConnoli says:

      @Christian Freedom. You are only to contact the police from a break in IF THERE are 2 Witnesses! lol Also we really don’t want to go to the police bc it might bring reproach on the ORG. They want to handle it internally w the Elders.

      So why is breaking into the Kingdom hall a Crime and need to call the authorities but child molestation is not a CRIME but only sin that can be handled by the congregation?

      Maybe a physical building is more important than the flock of children?

  7. Doc Obvious says:

    Teaching teenagers and young adults how to dress. Oh, how wonderful!

    Watchtower, do you have any respect for people’s boundaries? Watchtower needs to start handling things differently. All I see is more lawsuits coming through the legal system.

    Watchtower Babble and Tract Society has no respect for the domestics at all.

  8. Sharon Christensen says:

    Who would want to break into Kingdom Hall? It is usually hard to stay there when one has to. I know of an older couple in Calgary who were kinda…”helped out of”….We had a brkin of sorts…police have Bt prints…But vengence is mine…sayith the Lord…according to My $ store Bible…We all need to respect each others boundaries….unfortunately…JW.Orgy…has taught us to be dishonest…to hate…to rat…to laugh at..condemn and poke fun of…to take for granted those who care about us no matter what….to shun our family members …to divide and eventually conquer…instead of fighting against each other…why do we not join forces and conquer our enemy…Jw.orgy…instead of doing this to each other…just a thought….but my conclusions are not always the best….heck if Jws in Russia were like this…Putin just have to sit back and watch…we have been conditioned by the cult to be like Beavers and gnaw on each other…works for their own good. If anyone is on a quest…perhaps best to inform those who genuinely care for them, their safety and welfare…be like Shrek and Donkey…slay the dragon together…well actually it backfired on Donkey…but for the better….;)

  9. XJDUB says:

    If someone is unwilling to defend their beliefs the way their leader told them they would have to and was willing to defend his at the time, can they really say they’re his true followers?’

    • Ricardo says:

      @XJDUB,
      Excellent point. In how many ways have the GB shown themselves unwilling to stand up for goodness and honesty when their policies fail? What a disgrace they are.

  10. Caroline says:

    Youtube has been pushing an old Different Stroke show from the 1980’s lately and it is about child molesters and how they work and how important it is to report the abuser to the police right away. I watched it and it goes against everything Watchtower when it says why you go to the police right away and also in the show, they say that unfortunately a lot of people blame the victims which is what Watchtower implies in all their videos and articles.

    https://youtu.be/dYpVGaL81VQ

    • Caroline says:

      In the video above that I left a link to is from the show “Different Strokes” from the 1980’s, at the end of the show, it was telling why it is so important to report the abuse to the police right away. It said that a parent’s instinct is to confront the abuser right away but they said you need to go to the police right away instead.

      In the show, when they discovered that the boys were visiting a pedophile, they went to the police right away and the parents and the police broke in on the guy and they found all his videos and pictures and pills etc. They caught him in the act and he did not have time to get rid of all his damning evidence. They said that is why you go to the police right away instead of giving the pedophile time to get rid of all the evidence.

      With Watchtower, a Witness will go to the elders and the elders will call the branch to talk to lawyers and in the meantime, the pedophile has time to get rid of all the evidence.

      Another thing the show brought out is that people have a tendency to blame gays and the show brought out that it’s not normally homosexuals who commit those crimes.

      Since this show was made in the 1980’s, I believe that Watchtower knew exactly what they were doing even in the 1980’s with the articles they ran because no where in any of their articles have they ever said how important it is to go to the police right away and they also blamed homosexuals for being the ones who commit those kinds of crimes.

      In that one jwbroadcasting show with Anthony Morris 3rd, he said that Watchtower was ahead of it’s time with those articles in the 1980’s, but that show from the 1980’s, proves that Watchtower was deliberately not telling Witnesses to go the police first and I think it was because they did know that pedophiles should be reported right away and they deliberately wanted to give any pedophile Witness time to get rid of his evidence so that when it came out that the pedophile was a Witness, it would make the Society look bad.

  11. Hope Mathis says:

    What!!!!!! I never knew Jehovah’s witnesses had child abuse cases as Catholic churches is effective. I learned that JW is a wanna be as Donald Trump reality estate rich. Now new Awake number 4 2017, article ask in big black bold letters to donate. That is for unaware people to pick up the tap of child abuse settlements pay up millions dollars bill. Governing Body Zero Tolerance child abuse so your silent lamb pol icy is history. You dragging feet to protect innocent children. Jesus never abused children .

  12. Coretella says:

    When I was still an active Jehovah’s Witness, I remember going out door to door with my family and an elderly sister (who we often went over to her house for phone witnessing so we knew pretty well, especially since the group was very small). We split up into twos and divided up the territory and headed out our separate ways, me with the elderly sister. After doing a few doors she starts gossiping (she was bad for that and had been counseled on it in the past, which she promptly gossiped about how obscured she thought that was). This eventually lead to her speaking about a freind of a close friend of mine who I wasn’t familiar with because she went to a different congregation, but was around my age (late teens early 20s). This young sister had attended a party with mostly ‘worldly’ kids, some of which snuck some alcohol and she was gang raped. Not only was she strongly adviced not to go to the police, she was also promptly disfellowshipped for attending in the first place and I distinctly remember the elderly sister stating that she had dressed inappropriate and that it was no wonder she was raped. All while completing condoning all the actions (and inactions) the elders had taken and putting the blame solely on the victim. Even going so far as to say my freind shouldn’t speak to her because she was disfellowshipped and chastising her for feeling bad about even considering it. I ended up getting so mad I walked away without saying a word and made my mom switch the partners around so I didn’t have to work with her the rest of the day.

  13. Jay Will says:

    I believe what is missed by most about this part at the convention is that we want to do everything we can to prevent theses issues from happening. It isn’t saying that it’s your fault because of your dress this happened but it is saying that if we dress more modestly we may reduce this. If you took you kids to the park, would you take them to hood where there is a higher chance of violence? No you would take them some place where you had a low chance of violence. No matter what park you go to there is a chance of violence, but you can reduce that chance based on where you go. The same concept is applied to what you wear. I hope this helps. And if there was a case of abuse we would go to the Police just like everyone else. We respect and follow the law.

  14. Jim says:

    Watchtower liar Jefferson thinks child abuse is a witch hunt.

  15. Jimmer says:

    That liar Jefferson in Sac that child abuse was witch hunt. Out of nowhere. Did anyone notice?