FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 21, 2008 Dr. Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S. Executive Director, Fathers & Families (617) 542-9300 [email protected] TEXAS POLYGAMY CASE: Authorities Ignore Expelled Boys, Need to Find and Help the Lost Boys Boston, MA--Recent news reports about the Texas Yearning for Zion Ranch polygamist group highlight the abuse of young teenage girls who are compelled to marry older men. Yet very little attention has been paid to an equally important issue--the abuse and neglect of the group"s boys. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) removed all children under age 18 -- numbering 416 children -- from the compound. Of these 416, only 27 are teenage boys. Demographics indicate there should have been about 65 teenage boys. Thus there are about 38 missing teenage boys--most of them likely expelled by sect leaders prior to the DFPS raids. Other communities of this sect have expelled boys as young as 13 from the compound, forcing them to fend for themselves without education, friends, or adult guidance. The order is usually given by the spiritual leader of the compound, and the parents of the boys are too fearful of excommunication to object. According to one exiled boy, now in his twenties, 70 percent of the boys in his school class were expelled. In a polygamist society in which some men have many wives, simple math tells us that many men will have no wives at all. One way to deal with this inevitable imbalance is to expel the extra men, even if they are still boys. As indicated by our discussions with DFPS official Chris Van Duesen, Texas apparently has no plans to locate and assist these lost boys. According to Van Duesen, the lost boys problem does not exist in Texas. He offered no explanation for the preponderance of girls in state custody. This is an unacceptable oversight on the part of public officials whose job is to ensure the safety and welfare of children. Fathers & Families calls upon Texas authorities to address the needs of expelled boys. DFPS must search for the boys, locate them, and provide them with shelter and services. About Fathers & Families Based in Boston, Fathers & Families is a non-profit advocacy organization protecting children"s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. Through education and legislative outreach programs, Fathers & Families seeks to shape public policy and change well-meaning but misguided laws, judicial traditions, and government policies that drive many loving fathers out of their children's lives after divorce. More information on Fathers & Families and its programs is available on the organization"s website at www.fathersandfamilies.org or by calling (617) 542-9300.
NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission. All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.