Watchtower and Teenagers (New Video)

Becoming an adult and finding your own way can be difficult enough when you are a teenager. We’ve all been through that and know that the transition can be very stressful. “Growing up” is even more complicated if your family belongs to an extremely controlling religious group or cult.

Children of Jehovah’s Witnesses are often picked on by fellow classmates and bullies at school as well as facing occasional mistreatment by their teachers. Outsiders often have no idea how difficult life can be for young JWs.

The Watchtower has taught young Jehovah’s Witnesses to believe that abuse to be an example of the foretold “persecution” inflicted on faithful Christians as described in the Bible. Children are told that being able to accept and endure that abuse should be considered as their own “badge of honor.”

For other young JWs the reality of being forced to stand apart from their peer groups and not being allowed to engage in normal teen activities (like school sports, clubs, and class parties that their “worldly” classmates regularly enjoy) can be devastating.

AAWA’s new video is designed to help a wider audience understand how damaging the stress and mental anguish of living inside a controlling religion can be for young people at a critical point in their lives.

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Watchtower and Teenagers (New Video) — 27 Comments

  1. No one should ever “grow up as a Jehovah’s Witness” or indeed grow up as a member of any religion. Children should be taught ABOUT religion so that when they become young adults they can freely choose which, if any, religion to follow.

    • I agree John. Sadly too often kids don’t get a choice. And now we have David Splane talking a the convention telling parents they need to force their kids to meetings and service. They aren’t interested in the kids

    • Well, I can tell you from firsthand experience that it doesn’ t necessarily act as a prevention.
      I grew up in a home without religion. Religion was never a part of my world. And still I became a jw.
      So, I ‘freely chose’ according to your scenario. Only problem was I was unaware of the Watch Tower history and their many rewrites of said history. I was unaware of their mind control techniques. I was unaware that they used fear tactics in their literature and subconsciously in their picture portrayals of Armageddon
      At least with the internet there is so much exposure if one cares to research. I just don’ t see a time when parents, living in a free society, will not bring up their children with their own belief system and values. Highly unrealistic.

  2. That was excellent. Oh how I wish something like this was available when my children were jw teens! When they left the organisation it would’ve been a marvellous support for the turmoil they went through – and in some respects are still dealing with. Well done AAWA.

  3. I grew up a witness. I can’t mention everything I went through because is just too painful and embarrassing to even recall but I know this. When my daughter was reaching that age when the turmoil and pressure is inevitably coming because of their rules, and eminent rush to get kids baptized, it was time for me to leave. I remember my times as a teenager and I needed to protect my child from that. And so I did. I couldn’t allowed my kid to go through the same.

    • That is so awesome that you made that choice. Sometimes we don’t realize how bad it is until we see our child begin to enter that phase. One thing I heartedly suggest is that you talk to your daughter and let her know what was wrong and why you left. One of the sad things some kids do it go back later on. Do some research with her to help her see how bad it is. Make this a discovery path for both of you.

    • Thank you. I have passed on my research material for her to study it also. It wasn’t what got me to leave the org (the material) but it has helped me to stay out.

  4. The JWs controlling style is not unique. but I personally could have done without their brand of religious delusion being drilled I into me from a baby. And being told at 18 hat the world would end before I was 25 (now I’m 63) Happy release. The control is very deep and children especially need protection. – so good work on this site. I am however very uncomfortable with using a troubled child (Paris Jackson) to score points, not least because it is largely media gossip. Keep up the good work.

    • Max, I agree with Lee on the issue of whether celebrities or celebrity teens should be referenced when we discuss major issues involving the lifestyles of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our goal was two-fold when we released that video (after a great deal of internal discussion, by the way):

      1. Teenage JWs need to know that they are not alone with their problems. They need to know that it can affect others as well – but that support is available to them; and,

      2. Paris Jackson needs to be aware that her recent actions in speaking out and taking a stand against her JW upbringing have been noticed and may actually have positive influences on other young JWs. Paris needs to know that she has broad support for her actions and that there are many who understand exactly what she is dealing with.

      Last year I went to a session of a District Convention near my home. One of the things I noticed both before and after the session was how detached and sad so many of the young teenagers looked. The whole attitude seems to have changed since I was a young teen JW 50 years ago. Assemblies and conventions were fun. We got to visit with our friends and meet new ones from nearby Kingdom Halls. I saw none of that. The whole personality of the Witnesses has changed dramatically since I was in. And after the final session for that day (Saturday), no one except those with brooms and dust cloths stuck around. That parking lot emptied so fast it was scary. Not a lot of fellowship within any age group was going on. Meeting over – hit the doors and get the hell out. I found that a sad commentary on how little joy there is within the organization any more.

    • John , I found exactly the same at Twickenham Convention this weekend. Sitting one side of me were 2 late teen sisters, probably 18/19 who were clearly very bored. All I could hear were deep sighs and a real “I suppose we have to” attitude when they were required to pick up their bibles and check a scripture. I didn’t have my songbook with me so this sister kindly “shared” hers. That is, she virtually handed it to me with no interest in wanting to see the words for herself.
      Sitting the other side was a young man, approx. 18 with his parents. He spent most of his time scrolling through his phone apps and only bothered taking notice of the program when he got a nudge from his father.
      The whole assembly atmosphere was clinical and uninviting. There was NOTHING for these teens except a prescribed lecture that amounted to giving up their ambitions to go door knocking because “its the BEST way of life!!!” (pause for half-hearted, unconvinced applause). Attendants in hi vis jackets were so abundant and had so little to do that they pounced on any infraction of the rules with relish. Like you, I noticed the palpable lack of joy, everything seemed hushed and restrained as if waiting for something interesting to happen.

      I felt a huge pity for the teenagers next to me as they were guilted into giving up their dreams for such drivel. I only hope they manage to escape as Paris has done, and really start to live their lives fully. They deserve no less.

  5. Max You are not alone in that perspective. To me it wasn’t about scoring points. My sincere hope is that Paris Jackson knows she is not alone and there are people who support her even though there is nothing we can do except to warn people of the danger. Far too many teens have died and I dearly hope they too hear that they are not alone.

    • Thank you John. We are doing our best and really want to change a few things and help those who need it.

    • Now I think using his song would have been inappropriate and “scoring points”.

      My heart goes out to all these kids.

  6. Wake-Up calls appreciated, like others, wish someone would have talked to me 55 years ago. Would have avoided years of Watchtower abuses, saved family of 6, had an opportunity at “a real life”.
    We were Loners and shy fell into the “poor souls” trap and came out losers. Disfellowshipped after 30+ years for leaving.I say, “God Kicked Me out of Watchtower”. Before did not learn just how controlling and harmful Watchtower life became. Still have three adult 40s+-50 year old children in the lions’ mouth. One is dealing with “mental disorder” thanks to mistreatments of medical systems, one returned after 25 years, one is a “Watchtower” as he put it when I quit. I can identify with the very good comments above. Yes, Thank You AAWA for advocating and giving us a VOICE.

  7. “in the lion’s mouth” for sure. We all needed that wake up call but were too scared to listen even if we heard it. What we have is now and the opportunity to make our lives what we want instead of what a book publishing business wants.

  8. I was a victim of the WTS at age of 15 and I left the organization after 43 yeas.. The negative effects of false indoctrination caused me my childhood and education. I woke up to reality after they broke my marriage. Presently I have come to Jesus for unconditional salvation. Also, I am enjoying the unconditional love and support from world wide Ex-JW members like you. My ministry is Jesus Witness Ministries, Inc. I am obligated to pray and support all those who are still in this Lions den. Jesus said, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
    John 8:32


  9. I am currently growing up in a witness house hold. I have told my parents I do not want to be part of the religion, but if I stop going i get kicked out, im only 16 and do not have much money to support myself and not very many friends would take me in. This has caused me depression and anxiety, im not aloud friends at school, only witness people. I have to go to meetings twice a week and go out in service twice a week. im not aloud participating in sports because they might interfere with my service and there are “worldly” people there. I find the term “worldly” rude and almost a form of name calling. it defines, “materialistic.” my friends at school are good people and are sharing. im just really sad all the time. ill have no teenage memories, no fun. i sit alone every weekend and cry most nights. im getting anti depressants because of this. i have also self harmed and have had suicidal thoughts. i dont know how much longer i can do this… 🙁

    • Based on where you live at 16 you would be able to get into a group home. They aren’t terrible places to be. Some are actually very good. So you don’t have to be on the street if they throw you out. You can talk to one of the counselors at school about this.

      You could stick it out until you are 18 and work on your plan to get out. Be focused and clear about what you want and then work towards it even if that means you get a part-time job. Then save your money. Study. Do well and try to get a scholarship. Many kids use scholarships to get them through college.

      If it really is too much for you to work on your plan then by all means talk to the social worker or counselor at school. Also you can check the front of your telephone book. You will see a list of crisis numbers. They too can offer support and help you get in touch with local resources for kids. You are not alone. If needed we can provide support to you and information to the local services if needed. They might not understand much about Jehovah’s Witnesses but they will understand better is you say “strict fundamentalist religion”

    • Everything has a solution except death. There is no comeback from that. I too tried to end my own life when I was a bit younger than you because I felt trapped in something I did not want to be a member of. I attempted against my own life but luckily I was given another chance. Don’t do it, try to excel at school. That’s your ticket, education! Education will set you free. Continue your charade, play a front, you don’t have much time left as dependent child but you do have all of your life ahead of you as a grown up and you are almost there. Think of all the things you will be able to accomplish once you have no attachments. All the friends you will make in college. The future is always brighter, especially when departing from a such a dark pass. Good luck and keep up posted. There is a healing side for exjws on Facebook. It I’ll be nice to see you there. Healingxjws it’s called. Keep us posted, stay calm and focus on your future. There is nothing you can do about your past but the future is all yours.

    • THANKS A LOT to share your despair. I’m French and my English isn’t very good so sorry. I lived what you’re living. The worst years of my life. KEEP FAITH IN YOUR FUTURE. It exists, stronger than them. Take care of yourself. Here you have got great people, great advices and support

  10. In many countries of the EU social services use JW families for deported children
    En varios paises de la UE los servicios sociales usan familias TJ para los niños deportados
    Dans plusieurs pays de l’UE les services sociaux utilisent des familles TJ pour les enfants deportés

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