First Presidency counsels leaders on how to prevent, identify and respond to abuse

Deseret News

March 29, 2018

By Sarah Jane Weaver

In a continuing effort to counsel leaders on how to prevent, identify and respond to abuse, the First Presidency announced changes on March 26 detailing the Church actions “to protect God’s children.”

The First Presidency sent a letter and resource document — which includes an updated version of guidelines first issued in 2008 — to Church leaders in the United States and Canada.

“To help ensure the safety and protection of children, youth and adults, we ask that all priesthood and auxiliary leaders become familiar with existing Church policies and guidelines on preventing and responding to abuse,” stated the letter, signed by President Russell M. Nelson, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring.

The letter noted that in 2008, the First Presidency encouraged Church leaders to reach out in love to assist those who were suffering from abuse. “This global issue continues to be of great concern to us today. Our hearts and prayers go out to all who are affected by this serious problem.”

The changes detail how bishops and stake presidencies may conduct interviews with women and children and how they counsel victims of abuse and sexual abuse.

The revised statement on policies and guidelines specifies that children, youth and women now may invite an adult to join them in what traditionally have been personal interviews.

The First Presidency also clarified to members of bishoprics and stake presidencies how they should respond to reports of sexual abuse and how to minister in those situations. Church leaders are to rely on Church doctrine when addressing abuse and should never disregard a report of abuse or encourage members to remain in an abusive situation.

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