One plural wife in Colorado City told me that she's reluctant to take an injured child to the hospital since Texas CPS officials released the statistic that forty-one broken bones had been found in over four hundred YFZ children. She's reluctant to reach out for medical attention for fear that officials would immediately conclude that she had been abusing her children, and that authorities would use the injury as a premise for taking them away from her.

I understand her fear, a paranoia only recently overcome in fundamentalist circles. The distrust of mainstream hospitals kept my father, a doctor, very busy doing minor surgery, repairing broken bones, and delivering babies in people's homes or in his office where they would not have to encounter the labyrinths of established systems.

The statistics themselves indicate that the YFZ kids of Eldorado don't get hurt much. Less than ten percent seems like a promising sign. In my athletic nuclear family of four children and nine grandchildren, we count seven broken arms, two broken clavicles, a plethora of dislocated or broken fingers, several concussions, and more black eyes and sprained ankles than I can count. Only the babies and toddlers have not wounded themselves on the basketball court, football field, equestrian park or playground. And we don't physically reprimand our children in this family unless it's the only way to protect them. (For instance, the spanking my husband gave our five-year-old son when he persisted in riding his big wheel down the middle of the street even after we'd discussed it and even showed him the consequences in the form of a neighbor's run-over dog.

FLDS parents face that terrible dilemma of proving their innocence when they've already been judged guilty. The price of forcing young daughters to marry gives rise to the assumption that you will do anything to harm your children, anything to control them. Now their situation resembles the paradox of an estranged husband who is asked, "Do you still beat your wife?" Once the assumption of abuse is made, the burden falls to the accused party to prove that it didn't happen. Unfortunately, all fundamentalists, no matter how gentle and respectful of their children's free agency, get caught by the waves rippling out of Texas.

What Do You Think?