From XFamily - Children of God
Sect children beaten and made to smile, court told
MELBOURNE, Australia, May 19, Reuter - Children from homes allegedly linked to a religious sect have told of being beaten with sticks and made to smile all the time, a senior welfare worker told the Melbourne Children's Court on Tuesday.
Police and social workers last Friday took more than 120 children from communal houses in New South Wales and Victoria which they said belonged to a sect known as the Children of God.
The senior child protection officer, who cannot be named, said her department had investigated the sect in Australia and abroad and concluded that the children were likely to suffer significant emotional harm.
The children, aged between two and 14, lived secluded lives, did not attend normal schools and were not allowed contact with the outside world, she told the court.
Children told social workers they had to smile all the time and had been beaten with wooden panels and bamboo sticks for crying if they fell over and hurt themselves.
The Victoria state authorities are applying to the court to keep 56 children in protective custody pending the hearing of a protection application.
Lawyers are applying to have the children returned to their parents. The hearing continues.
In Sydney a children's court will sit on Wednesday to hear evidence from New South Wales welfare authorities about 65 children held under a care order.
Members of the Children of God, founded in California in 1968, believe they have been chosen by God to survive the end of the world.