Incidents of Infant Abuse in the Assemblies

A Mom Describes Child Training in the Omaha Assembly

"Yes, my husband and I were in the Assembly in Omaha, Nebraska for many years. The reason I'm writing? I'm still plagued with so much regret and shame for what I did. The abuse all the parents afflicted on our children hasn't really been talked about here, has it? The mothers' meetings we had to attend, and listen to the crazy teachings from Cheryl Zach and Chris Sjogren. The teachings were all based on fear. Fear that your babies were born depraved sinners and would never become spiritual unless you beat the sin and self-will out of them - fear tactics to get you to believe the teachings.

"We were taught to start spanking our babies at THREE MONTHS OLD!!! Next time you look at a baby think of that!

  • Lets talk about what went on in the mother's rooms. Remember the technique of the hand over the mouth? Just hold that child's mouth shut while they choke and scream and grunt, 'til they stop crying - sometimes up to an hour or more, just sitting there on the floor holding your child's mouth shut.
  • Let's talk about the pinching under the chin. Some parents would pull their child out the door by the chin, leaving marks.
  • Let's talk about wooden spoons and sticks, spanking over and over, and then telling your child to stop crying or they will get more, and of course they would get more.
  • Let's talk about bruises, bleeding bruises that mothers would compare. The bruises were horrific that some kids came to the meetings with, and we all talked about how to cover them if we needed to go for a doctor's visit.
  • It was our biggest fear that some visitor would discover what we were doing to our children, so in the later years the Leading Brothers said you couldn't spank at the meetings. All the mothers then held their hands over the mouth under a blanket, one hand ever so tightly over the baby's mouth and the other hand on their back, holding the child down.
  • Chris S. baby-sat my daughter at 6 weeks old. When I came to pick her up, Chris told me, "She's in the kitchen closet." And there my sweet baby was, red and covered in sweat from endless crying, her blanket drenched, in the dark closet

"This treatment of my children is one of my biggest regrets, and causes me so much heart pain. I still beat myself up for listening to Cheryl and Chris."

Reports from Moms in Other Assemblies

  • "There was a mindset mothers were taught about training our children: 1) If I don't do this well, I will have failed and it says something about me; 2) The Devil doesn't want me to spank; 3) You have to keep it up until you win. A mom told me about her three-year-old, 'He's up to 32 whacks now at home.'"
  • "Workers would sit in meetings policing everyone's children, glaring at children to control them - other people's children. Workers were encouraged to spank other people's children, and brothers in charge of houses were told to spank children of couples living with them. It was a pervasive thing."
  • "There were unrealistic expectations of children. Some Workers "potty trained" their infants at 6 months, and spanked them for accidents. One six-month-old was being trained to stay on the mat, and was whacked whenever he touched the edge of the mat. That went on for over half an hour. An eighteen-month-old was expected to stay on the mat all morning from 9:30 to 12:30. Another eighteen-month-old went to her own room when she was told to go to the living room, and was punished for not understanding the vocabulary. Developmentally disabled children were spanked for things they weren't able to do, because the Worker felt the child was malingering.

Other Reported Observations

  • There is an outreach meeting at the home of one of the Leading Brothers. The evening is warm, and so the windows are open. As one walks up the driveway, one can hear SLAP SLAP SLAP coming from a lighted room. A child is receiving a spanking. The sounds of whatever the parent is using (leather strap, wooden dowel, hand, wooden spoon?) slapping against the child’s bottom is audible several yards from the window. Please note: there are neighbors on both sides of the house, as well as directly across the street.
  • A mother wants to take a nap. She and her toddler, who has awakened recently from a nap, are home alone. The mother decides to put the toddler on its mat, while she lies down on the couch. When the child makes too much noise, or tries to get off the mat, she swats him with a leather strap.
  • A little boy is cold. He grabs the nearest thing to wrap up with, which happens to be his mother’s robe. His father comes home from work, and is appalled to see his son wrapped in such feminine garb. “Why are you wearing momma’s robe?” the father asks angrily. Stunned by his father's anger, the boy doesn't know what to say. “WHEN I ASK YOU A QUESTION, YOU’D BETTER ANSWER!!!” screams the father, grabbing his son by the collar and dragging him into a bedroom, where he spanks the boy. The mother witnesses her husband dragging their son into the bedroom, and says nothing. Also witnessing this scene were two single women and a single man who lived in the home.
  • A shy little girl doesn’t want to say, “Good morning,” to one of the single brothers living in her parent’s home. The mother takes her into the bedroom, and proceeds to spank her all morning (according to the mother), until the toddler will say, “Good morning”. News of this “all day spanking” made its way throughout the local assembly as an encouragement to parents. Please note: This type of beating to “get yieldedness" occurred many, many times in all my years of Assembly membership, by various members, who got their “inspiration” after hearing this story.
  • A Leading Brother and his wife visit the home of a single sister, who has a young child. The purpose of the visit is to make a plan of escape from the house, in case Child Protective Services (CPS) is called to their house on suspicion of child abuse. The Leading Brother says that CPS is part of the “persecution” of Assembly families.
  • A young family is having difficulty disciplining their oldest child, age three. Spanking him isn't working. Their solution? Put him in his baby brother's crib, call him a “little baby” in order to shame him, turn off the lights and close the door, leaving him in the room alone. The three-year-old is afraid of the dark.
  • An eight-month old was crying with colic. A Worker told the mother, "Put him in the closet and let him cry." He was left to cry for an hour.
  • A four-year old was wiggling in his chair in a meeting. The mother picked him up with both arms and slammed him down on the chair three or four times.
  • A three-year old would not keep his head down on the mat in a Mother's Meeting. The Leading Sister used the opportunity to demonstrate to the moms how to handle this situation. She spanked the child with a ping pong paddle for an hour. The next day the child was bruised.
  • A mother in the gave her child 65 sets of swats in one long training session.
  • A two-year old was observed with bruises on his legs, as well as having a black bottom.
  • After an evening meeting an eighteen-month old was spanked at home for three hours for not obeying 'come' when they got home.
  • A two-month-old infant was shut in a closet for crying with colic.
  • A nine-month-old was kept in his high chair all day for failure to bow his head to give thanks for breakfast.

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