Below is a media release from the ISKCON Communications Ministry about the film "Wolfpack" that was released at Sundance Film Festival in the USA on Sunday. The film has received a significant amount of media attention.
Wolfpack portrays a true story of a family in New York City where the father locked his children inside their four-bedroom apartment for years--except for occasional supervised visits outside---and keeps the only key.
The father is said to be a "Hare Krishna convert" according to the New York Times and other reports.
While we have not yet seen the film, the Communications Ministry felt it necessary to publicly respond even prior to viewing the film.
As pointed out below, ISKCON affirms that such neglectful and abusive behavior by a parent violates the tenets of Krishna consciousness.
Sadly, abuse and neglect of children has become an epidemic in modern society. It affects all nations and all segments of society. We are especially saddened that many children in our society suffered from abuse in the 1970's and 1980's. Awareness of abuse led to the creation of the ISKCON Child Protection Office (see safetemple.org).
Excerpts from the ISKCON Child Protection Guidelines are contained in the release below, along with statements from the ISKCON Family Vision Team. Both state the unquestioned importance of care for children in our communities and families
This movie, and other reports of abuse throughout the world are reminders to parents, families, teachers, and other leaders and members in our communities of the need to remain vigilant in our efforts to care for and protect children.
The release is below:
Hare Krishna Society Shocked by Treatment of Children in “The Wolfpack”
---Behavior Antithetical to Values of the Ancient Devotional Tradition
Washington, D.C.—The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the Hare Krishna Movement, states that the neglect and abusive treatment of children portrayed in the film “The Wolfpack” is the antithesis of the values taught and practiced by followers of the Hare Krishna Vaishnava, or devotional Hindu, tradition.
“ISKCON was shocked by the mistreatment of children portrayed in this film, and even more so to learn that the father in the film, Oscar Angulo, has had some affiliation with our society,” said Anuttama Dasa, Director of Communications for ISKCON.
“Although we’ve discovered that this reclusive man visited our temples sporadically for some years, we unequivocally state that his actions, especially locking his children in a 4-bedroom New York City apartment, violate our core values of care and compassion. That anyone, of whatever faith, could be so thoughtless as to treat their children in this way is heart-breaking and disturbing,” said Dasa.
“The Wolfpack,” which was released on January 25 at the Sundance Film Festival, portrays the story of the seven Angulo children, who are home-schooled by their mother but kept locked in the family apartment by their father, who keeps the only key. Their only exposure to the outside world, besides rare supervised visits, comes through watching thousands of videos.
A review by the New York Times describes the children, some of whom are now adults, as “articulate, sensitive, and extremely likeable.” The Times describes the father as paranoid and struggling with alcohol (drinking alcohol is prohibited by the Krishna faith). The New York City social services is said to now be involved in the lives of the Angulos.
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The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has established Ministries within its global community to promote protection of children, strong families, and standards of education. Most Hare Krishna children are educated in public, private, or charter schools.
ISKCON’s official Child Protection Guidelines state that:
“ISKCON recognizes that children, for their full and harmonious development, need to be raised in an atmosphere of love, support, guidance and understanding… ISKCON affirms that children have the need and the right to be protected, nurtured and guided. This includes the right of all children and young people to live in an environment where they are protected from exploitation and abuse… for ISKCON, the protection of children is paramount.” (For more, see www.SafeTemple.org)
"Protection and care of children should not be neglected under any circumstance. A holistic approach to child rearing that entails meeting their physical, mental/ emotional and spiritual needs is of paramount importance….a healthy, well-adjusted child makes a healthy well-adjusted citizen of the world. Children need exercise, outside activities, intellectual and educational stimulation and opportunities for positive social and cultural activities with peers and others as well as being taught spiritual principles." (From the "ISKCON Family Vision Team” book “Heart and Soul Connection: A Devotional Guide to Marriage, Service and Love”)
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or ISKCON, is part of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, a monotheistic sampradaya or denomination within the broader Hindu culture. ISKCON has approximately 500 temples and thousands of smaller communities of practitioners around the world. Best known for chanting the well-known Hare Krishna mantra, believers observe four “pillars” of religious behavior, i.e., mercy, truthfulness, compassion, and austerity or self-discipline.
For more information on ISKCON, see www.communications.iskcon.org[ child abuse ] [ wolfpack ] [ sundance ] [ film ]