21 May 2008

Sect's 'Lost Boys' deserve attention

Dallas Morning News - Editorial
May 21, 2008

The buzz in San Angelo's courthouse this week is about the women and children of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Judges are working to determine where the mothers and their young ones from the offshoot Mormon sect should go.

What hasn't received as much attention is the plight of boys from the West Texas ranch. The mystery surrounding them is one more reason the state should examine the sect's practices.

According to Child Protective Services, the number of boys and girls under age 13 under CPS' watch are almost exactly even. But the 1-to-1 ratio drops off precipitously for children 14 and older – with 53 girls and 17 boys.

The way we look at it, either there was an unprecedented quirk in boy-girl birth rates more than 14 years ago, or some young males risk becoming part of the sect's "lost boys." We worry more about the latter, given what's known about the sect's practices around the country.

By various accounts, 400 to 1,400 boys have been shunted aside nationally so older men can have first dibs on younger girls. The Diversity Foundation in Utah has been studying the problem for some time, and the picture's not pretty.

According to the foundation's Web site, some boys may be moved out of a compound for something as simple as talking to a girl. Others may be kicked out for standing in the way of older men getting young girls. Whatever the reason, it's not unusual for them to end up on the streets. And they can land there with no more than an eighth-grade education.

There's no magic answer for their predicament. But one way CPS plans to deal with this challenge is through an individual educational plan for each child, including the boys under its jurisdiction. The agency will work with the Texas Education Agency so that fewer children fall behind.


The boys on the West Texas ranch deserve their own attention. Too many are lost already.

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