Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Searching for Sarah

Texas authorities have been stymied by their inability to find the elusive "Sarah," an alleged 16-year-old girl whose phone call initiated the FLDS fiasco. In an effort to find Sarah, girls from the ranch were physically and verbally examined. A witness described how one of the girl with a name similar to that of the girl in the search warrant was grilled for hours by investigators. "You are this girl," they insisted. "Why don't you want our help?" Refusing to accept her self-identification, and demanding compliance, they subjected the girl to the same treatment that opponents of the FLDS object to.

Followers of this case are aware that there is reason to suspect that the call came from an outsider, and that the young abused girl does not exist. Marleigh Meisner, spokeswoman with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, is scrambling to justify the raid and essentially the kidnapping of more than 400 FLDS children on the strength of this one phone call.

Meisner has now described Sarah as a metaphor.
"I do believe that Sarah exists," she says. "If you listen to the testimony, there were many Sarahs. We received information there were young Sarahs who were pregnant, Sarahs who were mothers. Just because perhaps someone else phoned that in really doesn't change the investigation."

If we are to consider Sarah a symbol of pregnant young girls, let us take a look at some statistics which Mark IV provided at the Messenger and Advocate:

Some background of teenage pregnancies in Texas:

The non-Hispanic white rate is 60 per 1,000, the black rate is 130 per 1,000 and the Hispanic rate is 145 per 1,000.

The rate at YFZ seems to be 45 per 1,000, 20 percent lower than the rate for other Texas girls in the polygamous girls’ demographic cohort and more than 60 percent lower than among Hispanic girls in Texas.

That seems to indicate that underage girls at YFZ are 20 percent less likely to have sex than other white girls across the state and 60 percent less likely to have sex than Hispanic girls across the state.

Further, the rate of teen pregnancy at YFZ is lower than the rate of teen pregnancy in more than three-quarters of Texas counties.

The best thing the state can do now is apologize. If they are sincere in wanting to protect teenaged women from getting pregnant, they ought to take lessons from YFZ, because they are doing a better job of it that the state as a whole.

Yes, Texas, there is a "Sarah."
She walks the halls of your local high school. She goes to the Baptist services. She grew up in the Texas foster-care system. Yes, we all need to search for Sarah, wherever she may be found. If there are girls who need and want our help on the YFZ compound, we should be there to help them. But let us not force our attentions upon those who have a better track record for caring for their own than the rest of the state.


C. L. Hanson said...

Suggesting others "ought to take lessons from YFZ" is a bit much. If you're looking for lessons on this, open societies with reasonable sex ed have significantly lower rates of teen pregnancy. However, I agree that the fact that they found pregnant teens in YFZ is hardly evidence for abuse considering that their teen pregnancy rate is lower than or comparable to that of surrounding communities.

Bored in Vernal said...

yea, chanson--a bit of overwrought hyperbole there. good thing I can count on you to provide a calmer voice. This whole thing is just so upsetting to me.

Anonymous said...

Hey, what's with all this overwrought hyperbole? LOL.

I don't deny that a system such as what is in place with the FLDS holds potential for abuse. But when we factor in the long-term health risks that result from STDs, it is easy to conclude that our permissive society is more likely to damage young women that YFZ.

BiV, I agree. The situation is enormously upsetting.

Anonymous said...

First, a complaint. Reading your blog steals my thunder; all I want to post on my own blog now is "I agree with BiV." (Hey, that's rather catchy. You should have stickers made.)

Second, well, I agree with BiV.

Anonymous said...

While I am sympathetic to the FLDS situation, the main concern is that the teens in the FLDS are forced into the situation, where that is usually not true with the others.

Anonymous said...

You people aree very sick....Forcing young girls to marry and be raped by old petafiles is absurd. I am thankful Texas has stepped in to stop this hell these children bith boys and girls have endured.

SilverRain said...

Sooo, sally and anonymous . . . what I'm gathering here is that it's okay for a teenage girl to get knocked up by a teenage boy when both of them were "educated about sex" by the school system, and neither can care for the baby, but it's not okay for a teenage girl to get knocked up by a man who will take care of her and the baby in a situation where she is surrounded with supportive people. Mmmmmkay . . . .

I find it very irritating that so many people who cry wolf about issues they agree with are so unwilling to allow other people the right to make their own decisions when they DON'T agree with those. You can't have your cake and eat it at the same time. I have some issues with the FLDS lifestyle, but you simply CANNOT apply your opinions and perspective to them. Most of the FLDS women I've met are perfectly happy where they are.

Apparently, it's not just conservatives who can be bigoted.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Actually, our high teen pregnancy rates in the general population are not teenaged girls knocked up by teenaged boys. The majority of those cases are also statutory rape- teenaged girls involved with adult men. In California, it's 70 percent.

Here's part of what I've written on my blog about it:

Planned parenthood advises under-aged girls to lie so as to conceal statutory rape crimes as well as forced rape, and society turns a blind eye to this (note that in California nearly 70 percent of teen births are fathered by adult men). In what fashion is what happens inside the FLDS sects worse? This isn't a two wrongs making a right argument- my purpose is to point out that if statutory rape were really what concerns us, then the media, CPS, and the public at large would be equally upset about what goes on at Planned Parenthood clinics and in high schools (and junior high schools) all over the country.

So what is the difference? Is it that the fathers at FLDS are involved in their children's lives? Is it that there's a religious connection?

Why did we send 700 law enforcement officers, an army of CPS personnel, and armored cars to prevent this, and we do nothing much about this:

"An effective strategy to combat teenage pregnancy must address the issue of male responsib ility, including statutory rape culpability and prevention. The increase of teenage pregnancies among the youngest girls is particularly severe and is linked to predatory sexual practices by men who are significantly older."
"It is estimated that in the late 1980's, the rate for girls age 14 and under giving birth increased 26 percent."
"Data indicates that at least half of the children bom to teenage mothers are fathered by adult men. Available data suggests that almost 70 percent of births to teenage girls are fathered by men over age 20."
"Surveys of teen mothers have revealed that a majority of such mothers have histories of sexual and physical abuse, primarily with older adult men."

If society really cared about adult men involved with teen girls, society would be doing something about it other than giving the adult men the tools to hide their crimes (free access to abortion and birth control without parental permission, and agencies like Planned Parenthood actually following the law).

Anonymous said...

and be raped by old petafiles

Yes, this is troubling. Perhaps we should start a campaign to encourage animal rights activists to keep their document achives locked.

Anonymous said...

Yes Texas there is a Sarah, LOL, that is just classic. Thanks, BIV

Bored in Vernal said...

SR and Headmistress, great comments.

LL, rofl!
anon, take that! hah!

ungewiss, ♥! one of these days I will add Tshirts to this site, I will keep that slogan in mind.

Anonymous said...

"Followers of this case are aware that there is reason to suspect that the call came from an outsider, and that the young abused girl does not exist. Marleigh Meisner, spokeswoman with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, is scrambling to justify the raid and essentially the kidnapping of more than 400 FLDS children on the strength of this one phone call."

As I explained there is a good faith cause in abuse cases. I'd be happy to go over it again.

And you talk about teen pregnancy rate- while it's nice to hear that the rate is lower at the YFZ ranch, it has nothing to do with simply teens getting pregnant! The State doesn't care if the teens are getting knocked up! As you said, it happens all the time all over the world! It's a matter of getting knocked up by ADULT MEN. If there were 30 underage pregnant girls who were fertilized by 30 teen boys- it wouldn't be as big an issue. It's a matter of an isolated community that endorses (as a WHOLE not individual families) child rape. Does that make sense to you?

Anonymous said...

and to answer silverrain- I see where you're coming from: pregnant by a teenage boy who has already left you verses an older man that will provide for you for like. I'm with you on that-- an FLDS man interviewed said polygamy is better than adultery. I agree. I want silverrain to consider that the State of Texas isn't trying to argue a MORAL issue, but a LEGAL issue. A 50 year old man having sex with a girl under 18 is illegal. No one is saying it's worse than other things- I think there's plenty worse. But they need to follow the law, or otherwise change the law. It fascinates me that they'll take our welfare money in a heartbeat but won't follow our laws or cooperate with authorities.

Me said...

Legally speaking, when it comes to statutory rape, there is no difference between an 18 year old man and a 50 year old when it comes to having sexual contact with minors who are under the age of consent.

Me said...

I was curious and wanted to be sure what I said was accurate, so I looked it up.

The age of consent in Texas is 17, but there is an "affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the actor...was not more than three years older than the victim and of the opposite sex...(and) did not use duress, force, or a threat against the victim at the time of the offence"

This seems to mean that if a 19-year-old man has sex with a 16-year-old girl, he may not be prosecuted, but if he's 20 he's outside of that loophole?

I amend my comment above to: Legally speaking, there's no difference between a 20-year-old and a 50-year-old man when it comes to having sex with females under the age of 17 in Texas.

Anonymous said...

who said there's a difference?

John White said...


I'm a bit ... puzzled BiV. Legal issues aside (really), institutionalized polygamy in an isolated community where young girls are in plural marriages with much older men "feels" very different to me than non-institutionalized, non-isolated, non-polygamous teen pregnancy.

And I'm always wondering what happens to young men in these types of community. Do they just leave? Or hang around practicing celibacy? Seems like a recipe for disaster.