Amish corporal punishment

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From the highway, it looks like any other farming community in rural Manitoba: a cluster of well-kept homes with brightly painted shutters, perfectly manicured gardens and children's swings swaying empty in the yard. But as you get a little closer, it soon becomes clear that the people of this small conservative Mennonite community are living in a different world, one that dates back decades in time. The women wear long dresses and bonnets. The men dress mostly in black with long beards and wide-brimmed hats. Most telling is the transportation — horse-drawn buggies instead of cars.

But there is also something else different about the people living in this community. All their children are gone. But you still want them very much. All the children in the community — about 40 of them — were seized by Child and Family Services , some in February and the rest in June. Thirteen adults were charged with offences , some accused of assaulting children with a cattle prod and a strap. Community leaders have said the charges stem from disciplinary practices used on some of the children. Despite the sensational nature of the charges, officials with Child and Family Services have been working with community members to return the children, provided they are prepared to change their ways.

And t he community members have alled their willingness to work with CFS and do what ever it takes to get their children back. In support of those goals, adult community members took the unusual step of inviting CBC News into their community and homes to talk about the case and their commitment to change.

The minister, along with all others in the Mennonite community, cannot be named to protect the identity of the children. According to the minister, the community's ordeal can be traced back to events that started a few years ago. Members began noticing what they deemed to be "abnormal behaviour" by some school-age children. When it didn't stop, the children were placed in the homes of other families for disciplinary purposes, a common practice among people in this community.

Eventually, some community members came to believe that sexual abuse — by one particular member of the community who has since moved away — was the root cause of the bad behaviour being exhibited by some of the children in the community. But the minister said when the RCMP investigated, they could find no evidence of sexual abuse and no charges have been laid. Instead, officials focused in on the corporal punishment being used by some adults on some children. Shortly after the investigation started, so did the apprehensions. The children were seized and the community members were charged.

Since that time, community members have been working to correct discipline methods, in an effort to meet modern standards and law. All the community's members have also agreed to 18 provisions outlined in a letter sent to the leadership by CFS this past summer.

One provision requires parents to let outside professionals in to assess the ongoing safety of the children. Another states that parents will not allow anyone else in the community to discipline their children. The parents had to "commit to spanking children only with their hands on their butts" and can only use physical punishment on children aged two to Jay Rodgers, chief executive officer of the General Child and Family Services Authority, told CBC News that CFS has been working to understand the community's traditional beliefs and culture, while explaining what's acceptable in the punishment of children.

However, he can't give a specific timeline for when the rest of the children will be returned, particularly if a parent is facing criminal charges. That's the case for a mother of two whose young boys were taken into CFS care in June. She faces one count of assault involving who was not hers and was not living in her home. The woman says she worries the charge is undermining efforts to have her children returned. For now, she and her husband are allowed to visit their children one hour a week. Her husband says he fears the children will become more and more attached to their foster parents.

But they can tell us it's wonderful and excellent, but it doesn't seem to help anything. In the meantime, the two continue to hope they will be next on the list to have their children back. Manitoba Mennonite community regrets harshly disciplining children In a broadcast exclusive, CBC News was invited to a Manitoba Mennonite community which has been without its children since they were apprehended months ago amid allegations of child abuse.

Social Sharing. Mennonite child abuse arrests have community reeling Mennonite elders seek salvation through healing circle Mennonite community in talks to reunite children, parents Despite the sensational nature of the charges, officials with Child and Family Services have been working with community members to return the children, provided they are prepared to change their ways.

At that point, corporal punishment was used to try and correct the behaviour. We had some serious problems. Fearing the children were at risk, the minister asked the RCMP to investigate. Working to correct discipline methods Since that time, community members have been working to correct discipline methods, in an effort to meet modern standards and law.

He expects six children will be returned to two families within next couple of weeks. We want to give them that, but we can't. Related Stories Mennonite child abuse arrests have community reeling Two from troubled Mennonite community out on bail Some Mennonite children to be back with parents soon Audio.

Amish corporal punishment

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Mennonite community regrets harshly disciplining children