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Notes from the Safety Net conference

Published June 18, 2012 6:30 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There's so much you have to leave on the cutting room floor when you cover a daylong, chock-full event like the Safety Net Conference from Friday.

I ended up focusing my story on the results of a survey of young people who have left or been forced out of the FLDS over the past 10 years, since it was the first study of its kind and there is so little research out there on Fundamentalist Mormons. Read the story here.

But there was a whole lot more. The keynote speech was on attachment parenting, and included some fascinating, tragic stuff on how unresolved childhood trauma can leave ripples of pain throughout one's adult life. Child psychologist Douglas Goldsmith expressed the concern that kids in multiple-parent, very large households, like polygamous homes, might take on too many responsibilities of raising their younger siblings. But he also expressed the importance of keeping children in a stable environment, only removing them from a home in extreme circumstances. His talk also made me think of those kids trying to make it without their families after leaving the FLDS.

College of Southern Nevada professor Jennifer Basquiat equated her work in studying voodoo in Haiti to her two years studying plural communities. Both are outside the cultural norm, she said, and are surrounded by misperceptions. She spoke in favor of decriminalization.

The panel entitled "Education Issues with Fundamentalist Mormon Youth" was a highlight, presenting a range of perspectives from young people from polygamous backgrounds.

Along with Martha Barlow, who I quoted in my story, Nicole Mafi spoke eloquently about her difficult departure from the Kingston group and effort to stay in school after her father tried to arrange her marriage while she was a teenager.

Logan Brown, the eldest in the polygamous Brown family that stars in the TV show "Sister Wives," went to homeschool, private school and public school before his family moved to Nevada, where he will probably attending the University of Nevada Las Vegas in the fall.

Liesl Darger, whose parents wrote the memoir Love Times Three, opened up about the negitivity — knowing and unknowing — she encountered at times growing up a polygamist in Utah, and called for more sensitivity and understanding.