Church unveils abuse prevention training for all Latter-day Saint leaders of children and youth
Every adult working with children must complete the 30-minute training by Sept. 22 and again every three years
SALT LAKE CITY — All adults working with children or teens in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must complete a 30-minute online course about preventing and responding to abuse by Sept. 22, church leaders announced Friday morning.
“You play an important role in protecting children and preventing abuse,” the training presentation states. “Do not tolerate abuse in any form.”
The audiovisual training is available at ProtectingChildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org and consists of an illustrated slideshow that includes scenarios that require responses.
“We take Jesus Christ’s teachings about children and youth very seriously,” said Sister Joy D. Jones, general president of the church’s international Primary program, which includes more than 1 million children. “He welcomed them into His presence and gave stern warnings against abusing, bullying or hurting them in any way. Jesus said of children, ‘of such is the kingdom of God.’ His deep concern for children and youth must continue to be our deep concern.”
A church news release said it consulted with child protection groups, therapists and other professionals.
The training instructs leaders about how to prevent abuse. It requires two adults to be present at all times. It also provides training on how to respond to abuse.
“Anyone who knows or has cause to believe that a child has been or is a victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse has a solemn responsibility to do something that can ensure protection for the child,” it states. “Take all reports of inappropriate behavior seriously and assume they happened. Remain calm and keep communication open. Do not blame the child, question whether the abuse really happened or suggest that the abuse somehow was his or her fault. Reassure the child of your love and confidence and that you will take appropriate steps to protect him or her. When abuse occurs, the immediate responsibility of church leaders is to help those who have been abused and to protect vulnerable persons from future abuse.”
The training course directs North American bishops and stake presidents to contact the church’s abuse help line about every situation in which a person may have been abused or neglected.
“If you are not a bishop or stake president and you learn of abuse, you should immediately contact legal authorities,” the training states. “Also contact your bishop for counsel and direction.”
The course teaches about sexual, physical, emotional and verbal abuse, neglect and abusive dating relationships. It also defines grooming, coercion, harassment, bullying, hazing and teasing.
The new training is a landmark for the church.
“This is the first time that we have done training and had it be recorded and associated with a membership number,” Alan Rogers, senior safety manager for the church, told the Church News. “The training is opportunity to increase awareness and further spread the knowledge of important safety and protection concepts.”
Each adult will log in through his or her church account and undertake the course within one month of having their calling sustained — supported by a hand vote in their congregation. The requirement applies to every adult who serves in youth Sunday School and seminary classes and in the Primary, Young Women and Young Men organizations. That includes presidencies, teachers, advisers, camp leaders, pianists, activity day leaders, secretaries and music leaders.
Their training must be renewed every three years. The church’s website will alert local leaders if training is not done.
The church’s Priesthood and Family Department sent a notice Friday to local leaders in the United States and Canada, where the program is being launched in English. It is being translated into other languages and will be implemented around the world.
The training must also be completed by Latter-day Saints serving in bishoprics and stake, district and branch presidencies as well as high councilors and all members of the presidencies of the Primary, Young Women, Young Men and Sunday School and Elders Quorum in each stake, district, ward and branch.
Anyone can sign up for a login on the church’s website and see the training. Leaders encouraged parents and those in callings not directly associated with children and youth to take the training.