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What About the Kids?

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What every Mom needs to know about the Texas polygamist case.


Today in Moms Are Talking About, we told you the latest in the Texas polygamy case. But every time we hear a news report about this situation, we can't help but worry for those kids. What kind of effect is being ripped from their mothers' arms having on them? Mom•Logic spoke with cult expert Rick Ross on how this this is likely to affect the children.

What's going through their minds

"Keep in mind that these children are being plunged into what they consider a different planet," says Ross, who often works with children who have escaped or been removed from cults or sects such as this one. "These kids are bewildered, confused, and fearful because they have never ventured out of the control of
the organization.

"They've been taught since earliest childhood that the outside world is evil and dangerous. That's the conundrum. Everyone they know and love is in the compound. They often don't know one single person in the outside world. Yet, they're being horrifically abused within the compound, and have been for years. This is by far the most difficult case of kids being removed from a cult that I have ever seen, and I've been working in the field since 1982."

Their unique challenges
"These children have no meaningful ties to any outside community, have never gone to public school, and have no friends outside the group. The younger children, in my experience, will be easier to work with.

"The older kids will have more difficulties. After all, they are more intensely indoctrinated, and have been in the group for a longer period of time. The pull for those older kids to return to the group will be strong. There's an incredible loyalty there. Some of the kids I've counseled have gone back to the cult, because that's where the family members they loved and missed were."

What they've been through
Abuse for these kids often starts early, according to Ross. They aren't given toys. They're forced to work at age 5 or 6. Once they hit puberty, the abuse becomes even more acute.

"Girls are married or pregnant at 13 or 14. At this age, boys are often thrown out because the older men don't want competition. These young men are called "lost boys" because they often end up on the streets, sad casualties of this
polygamist lifestyle.

What the mothers are thinking
The mothers in the group are abused as well. Ross says although this particular organization, FLDS, is almost a century old and has assets of over $200 million, the women have zero power.

"The women in particular have it very bad," he says. "They have so little room to have a life of their own. They can't choose how to dress, how to wear their hair. They aren't allowed to wear makeup or pants. They're like cloned prototypical personalities who live in fear of the men. This is beyond Stepford Wives."

The women are so brainwashed, he says, most of them even abandoned their own children. "139 mothers came out, presumably to be with their kids when authorities raided the compound.

But it was later believed they were just following orders from the men, making sure the kids didn't speak against the group to the authorities. When all the mothers were given the choice to go to a safehouse with their children or to go back to the compound, 133 women went back--only six stayed."

It's so hard to imagine how a mother could leave her own children. But then again, these mothers also allow their children to be sexually abused and married off at 13. "These women's priority is male authority," Ross concludes.

"I'm sure they love their children, but they are willing to cooperate with mandated sexual abuse of chlildren. They don't see it that way. It's likely that they themselves were child brides, their mothers were, as were their grandmothers. They see it as holy and sacred--but it's sexual abuse and exploitation,
bottom line."

What would you like to say to these polygamist Moms, given the opportunity?

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8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kelley April 18, 2008, 4:27 PM

Is being “ripped from their mothers arms,” traumatic? Sure. Is it more traumatic than being forcibly “married,” raped, and pregnant at THIRTEEN years old? No, it most certainly is not.

This is not about freedom of religion, this is about protecting children from abuse. I applaud the Texas Justice system for taking a stand, and I wish that my own legislators, here in Utah, would do the same.

And I’m sorry, but I’d rather have my soul damned to hell than leave my children in the hands of strangers in a world I considered to be so dangerous.

Better Future April 18, 2008, 4:30 PM

I would say to these Moms that they need to find the strength to look deep within themselves and really ask if given a choice, if this life is what they would choose for their kids. Of course, they’d have to REALLY be honest with themselves, because they’re so brainwashed, they may think this life is great—but I don’t think so. Most mothers want only joy for their kids and I doubt that these mothers are any different. I would urge them to understand that just because something “has always been done this way,” doesn’t make it right. Start over today and YOU CHOOSE the life you want for yourself and your kids. And teach them to want/do the same.

Jez April 18, 2008, 4:37 PM

Here’s a quick ques.: If they kick out all of the boys at 13 and 14, then who are these old, perverts that these poor girls are being forced to marry?

Amy April 18, 2008, 5:00 PM

Jez, I don’t think they kick out ALL the boys - that’s being overstated by the media - just enough to make sure there are enough girls to go around. Sick, isn’t it?

Jez April 18, 2008, 7:14 PM

Amy: It is SO sick! It’s really such a tragedy how people use religion as a means of controlling and abusing others. :(

AuntBaaa April 18, 2008, 10:40 PM

Aren’t we all just being a little to quick to judge here? They have yet to find the young woman that reported this abuse, yet these children are being torn away from the only world that they know, by the government. Earlier today I heard that there was an investigation into a 33-year-old woman that supposedly made the phone calls reporting this abuse (posing as the 16-year-old bride). It just seems like a pretty thin case. I would be the last person to condone this form of organized abuse, but that has yet to proven. I understand they want to err on the side of caution and make sure that these children are safe, but it the state of Texas really in a position to guarantee that? What is the judge-ordered DNA testing going to prove? Under what conditions will the judge allow these children to be returned to their families? Will they drag this on and these children will then be dumped into the foster care system? Really? Based on some alleged abuse charges phoned in by an imposter?

Nola April 19, 2008, 1:08 AM

This community is also committing welfare fraud. The moms pose as “single parents” claiming not to know who fathered the children. That’s how this cult can afford their dozens of offspring.

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