Manitoba Mennonites get help after children seized

July 24, 2013 at 2:50 PM

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, July 24 (UPI) -- Officials in Manitoba say a "restoration team" has been organized to aid families involved in a seizure of children from a rural Mennonite community.

Dozens of children, between the ages of 1 and 17, were taken by government agencies this year after 13 adults in the community were arrested on multiple assault charges. Court documents say some of the assaults involved a strap and a cattle prod.

"This is a very unique and challenging situation," Jay Rodgers, chief executive of Manitoba Family Services, said of efforts to find placements for the children and the creation of safe environments. "The restoration team has come together as a way of trying to build a relationship between child and family services and this community."

He added an effort has been undertaken to help adults in the Mennonite community understand "the laws that we have to work under in Manitoba" regarding acceptable "discipline of kids."

Former Mennonite Central Committee executive director Peter Rempel is a member of the restoration team, and said he was asked to help after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police asked his help after provincial Family Services staff "started apprehending children because of the corporal punishment aspect of it."

About 40 children remain in Family Services' care, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. noted.

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