San Angelo, Texas–On Tuesday, I asked whether the state of Texas had any concern for underage boys who are expelled from polygamous sects. Today I have the answer: No.
All children under age 18 — numbering 416 children — were removed from the Yearning for Zion Ranch (YFZ). Of these 416, only 27 are teenage boys. The law of averages tells us there should have been about 65 teenage boys. Thus, there are about 38 missing teenage boys. Most likely they were expelled by sect leaders prior to the official raids.
But the state of Texas apparently has no concern about 38 young boys left to fend for themselves. Today I spoke with Chris Van Duesen, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. According to him, there are no lost boys roaming the streets of Texas — the problem does not exist. He told me that if young boys were being expelled, the state would somehow know about it. Although boys are expelled in Utah, Van Deusen says it doesn”t happen in Texas. He has noticed that most of the children from YFZ are girls, but has no explanation for this peculiar fact. There are no plans to look for expelled boys. Tell us what you think below.
The 27 teenage boys in state custody have been shipped over 300 miles to the Boys Ranch of Texas, north of Amarillo. They are the only children who have been moved from the San Angelo – El Dorado area.
A separate thread is the question whether Texas officials have abused their powers by removing 416 kids from homes and families in a traumatic scene involving armored cars and automatic weapons, holding these kids in a sports arena, breaking up siblings, and confiscating cell phones. All of these actions were spurred by phone calls from one anonymous girl whom authorities cannot find. Sect members believe there was no caller – – that a pretense was constructed to justify the raids.
All Americans are repulsed by the specter of the forced “marriage’ of underage girls to older men. But some point out that over 300 of the children are under age five, and are in no immediate danger. In other words, they say, there is no evidence whatsoever of imminent danger to the vast majority of the confiscated children. They argue that children cannot be taken from parents lightly, and that a calmer, less frightening investigation of the problem should have been undertaken. They argue that no child should have been removed from her family unless there was specific evidence of danger to that particular child.
Tell us what you think about this point of view below.
In the first thread, the sect members are the bad guys. In the second thread, the sect members are victims of official persecution. Where does the truth lie? Maybe both are true. Life is complicated.
(To learn more, see my previous blog post Texas Polygamy Case: Don”t the Boys Count?)