The Role of Educators in Supporting Children of High-Demand Religious Group Believers


"High-demand religions" are religious groups that strongly emphasize leadership and reinforce strict behavioral codes (Myers, 2017). The children of high-demand religious group believers are called “second-generation”, or "SG" (Goldberg, 2017). As a review study concerning the therapeutic issues of families involved in these groups suggests, SG children tend to experience abuse (Whitsett et al., 2017). However, research regarding the life experiences of Japanese SGs and ways to support them is scarce. An interview study of 10 SG Japanese adults (6 women, 4 men, medium age: 42 years) was conducted. The participants (recruited through the “Japan Society for Cult Prevention and Recovery”) were asked about their upbringing and current lifestyle. The interviews were analyzed with IPA (Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis). Participants who encountered supportive school teachers and enjoyed positive interactions with classmates had better chances at societal integration, while those who faced discrimination in the classroom struggled with it. It was inferred that the lives of Japanese SG children are often deeply influenced by their experiences at school. The following points will be argued: 1) educators should be informed on the characteristics of common high-demand religions and the issues faced by SG children 2) schools should eliminate discrimination against religious minorities and be proactive in providing safe spaces for SG children to express themselves and interact positively with their classmates. Limitations of this study include a restricted sample of only one nationality, which reduces its generalizability, while its strengths include sample heterogeneity in terms of age and family compositions of the participants.

Author Information
Martina Bottazzo, Osaka University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACEID2024
Stream: Professional Training

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon