|Colorado City's "Lost Boys" need help|
By Joe Dana|
12 News - Phoenix
Warren Jeffs is in prison, but the havoc he created continues.
Just ask social worker Michelle Benward. She runs a group home in St. George, Utah for some of Colorado City's "lost boys." The home is a refuge for dozens of young men who were banished from their families during Jeffs' rule. Benward predicts there are hundreds of "lost boys" out there, spread out from Utah to Arizona to Nevada.
"They live together stacked in apartments, they're homeless, they're addicted to alcohol, they don't have a high school education," says Benward.
The young men are victims of Warren Jeffs cruel, "tough love" approach. Several years ago, he instructed parents to dis-own their teen-age sons who were not precisely in-line with gospel teachings, investigators say. Boys as young as fifteen years-old were kicked out onto the streets because they had kissed a girl, gone to the movies, or challenged authorities. However, Mohave County investigator Gary Engel says the real reason for the boys' exile was because they posed competition to the older men who wanted to marry younger girls.
Benward says the state of Utah allocated 90 thousand dollars to provide social services for the exiled children from Colorado City.
"I know every non-profit needs help," Benward says. "But it's not enough... I'm working more than a hundred hours a week and I'm paid for 25. I have volunteers helping, but it's just not effective enough."
Anyone interested in helping Benward's organization can donate to the New Frontiers For Families organization at New Frontiers For Families The boys also need clothes, furniture and other necessities, Benward says.
What worries her most is that there continues to be a lack of communication between the government and the families of Colorado City.
"We intervened in their community through one strain and that was the prosecution," says Benward. "What we missed was the social implications of removing a religious icon from that community. We have not made any inroad in that community where we can bridge the gap between kicking them out and keeping them there and keeping them safe."
Originally broadcast November 23, 2007
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