Plain Communities

5-11-22

Dove’s Nest connection to Plain community work, origin of For the Sake of A Child

In 2014, Dove’s Nest received a call seeking help with engaging with Plain Communities (Old
Order Mennonite and Amish) in child protection. Though this had not been a part of Dove’s
Nest’s work, this call pointed to a gap in child safety in Anabaptist communities. A co-founder
and board member of Dove’s Nest, Dr. Jeanette Harder, took up the challenge with the board’s
blessing. For several years, Dr. Harder engaged with Plain communities to learn about child
protection in their context, and also provided “cultural awareness trainings” to social work and
child welfare professionals seeking to engage with Plain communities. The last of these
trainings happened in 2021.

In 2019, Dr. Harder and Allen Hoover, an Old Order Mennonite man, co-authored the book For
the Sake of a Child. The target audience of this book is Plain families, and the intended purpose
is to provide information about positive parenting; how to identify, prevent, and report child
abuse; and the importance of collaboration with social services. It also includes appendices
providing recommended resources, both books and organizations.

Concerns Raised about suggested resources in For the Sake of a Child

Recently, we have learned that some of the resources in the book do not follow best practices
for child protection, and have perpetuated abuse and silenced survivors. Further, in an open
letter, Mary Byler, director of The Misfit Amish, has identified some culturally incompetent
perspectives that reflect a lack of expertise in the community. More information can be read in
the article, Review: For the Sake of a Child: Child Abuse Prevention Book Aims to Protect
Children, but Falls Short in Key Areas, by Amanda Crist and Hope Anne Dueck from A Better
Way.

Dove’s Nest Board responds to these concerns

Dove’s Nest takes these concerns seriously. A Better Way and The Misfit Amish are deeply
embedded in child protection and survivor advocacy within Plain communities, and have
first-hand knowledge that we at Dove’s Nest do not. Because Dove’s Nest was involved in the
origin and distribution of For the Sake of A Child, we are deeply sorry for harm caused by errors
and inappropriate resources offered in For the Sake of a Child.

In 2021, Dove’s Nest and Dr Harder mutually agreed to separate the work with Plain
communities from Dove’s Nest. We will not engage further in this work, and we encourage all
work on child safety in Plain communities to seek out the perspectives and experiences of
survivors of abuse within the community.

(Dr. Harder recused herself from the creation of this statement.)